With the exhibition Archipel, the Musée d'arts de Nantes is pursuing the dialogue which was initiated in 2014 with Jean-Jacques Lebel and works in the Endowment Fund by artists ranging from Marcel Duchamp to Francis Picabia and Yoko Ono, and including Victor Hugo, Max Ernst, and André Breton. The works reveal the huge diversity of the Fund. Setting them in counterpoint makes it possible to identify seminal themes (madness, eroticism, revolutions, etc.) and to pay tribute both to known artists and to neglected, overlooked or anonymous artists from the world of modern and contemporary art dear to Jean-Jacques Lebel (Antonin Artaud, Carolee Schneemann, Isabelle Waldberg, etc.).

The central structure and side galleries

The exhibition is organised into several sections presenting the main structural themes of the Fund.
In the centre of the Patio, a scaffolded structure establishes connections between the works installed in it.
It is mirrored in the side galleries off the Patio and in Room 25 on the first floor of the Palais, where visitors are invited to enjoy a more intimate experience. There are works by writers who were also visual artists, such as Guillaume Apollinaire and Victor Hugo, but also more maverick figures from Dada to the Beat Generation, and from Fluxus to the Polyphonix poetry festival, and artists who had limit-experiences such as Henri Michaux and Antonin Artaud.

Jean-Jacques Lebel

As an artist and focal figure who has initiated a number of collective events, Jean-Jacques Lebel has been a major presence on the arts scene since the 1960s.
He is known in particular as the leading organiser of happenings in Europe.
A special relationship has existed between this artist and the Musée d’arts de Nantes since 2014 and the exhibition Présenter l’irreprésentable – Alain Fleischer, Jean-Jacques Lebel et Danielle Schirman, which the museum organised in the Hangar à Bananes venue. Since then, the Jean-Jacques Lebel Endowment Fund has been engaged in a close dialogue with the Musée d’arts. This bore fruit in the exhibition Itinéraires at the Musée d’arts de Nantes in 2017 to mark the reopening of the museum (June 2017-January 2018), and was the inaugural Jean-Jacques Lebel Endowment Fund event at the institution, presenting a portrait of this “artist-collector.”

The Endowment Fund

The Jean-Jacques Lebel Endowment Fund, which was created in 2013, is a unique ensemble which has evolved gradually since the 1950s. The fruit of donations from artists, interactions with friends in the creative arts, and Jean-Jacques Lebel’s own selections, it now contains over 1,000 works. Its mission is to preserve and extend the reach of this major ensemble of works, which are the product of artistic and intellectual connections and friendships.
The fund’s main activities are designing and developing exhibitions, publishing, and cultural events. Since its foundation, the Endowment Fund has loaned a number of works to French and international institutions (museums, foundations, biennales, etc.).


Chief curator:
Sophie Lévy, Director and Curator, Musée d’arts de Nantes.

Scientific curators:
Cécile Bargues, art historian and exhibition curator, and Katell Jaffrès, Head of Contemporary Art Collections.


* Captions and credits:
- André Breton, Valentine Hugo, Greta Tzara Knutson, Tristan Tzara, Cadavre exquis, vers 1933, crayons de couleur sur papier noir, 24 x 31,5 cm © ADAGP, Paris, 2020

July 17 - October 18, 2020

Patio and Room 25

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