Menton, 8 June 2011, Art Media Agency (AMA).
A museum dedicated to Jean Cocteau and the Severin Wunderman Collection is scheduled to open in Menton in November 2011. The city of Menton received 1,525 works by Jean Cocteau from American collector Wunderman and is expected to exhibit them in the new museum. The new museum is highly anticipated in Menton, but recent controversies have dampened enthusiasm for the project.
Annie Guédras, a specialist in Cocteau’s oeuvre, has cast doubt on the authenticity of some of the works donated by Severin Wunderman, a rich collector who died in 2008. Although Annie Guédras is an expert on the subject, she left the Cocteau Committee in 2008 as the relationship between the different commiteee members was strained.
In February 2011 a new assessment was carried out by Patrick Martin and Dominique Bert. They decided to withdraw thirty-six pieces from the collection.
Meanwhile, the Musée Cocteau curator Hugues de la Touche, who supported Annie Guédras’ findings, has been dismissed. Jean-Claude Guibal, the centre-right UMP mayor of Menton, affirms that De la Touche’s dismissal was not connected to the Cocteau affair.
This case highlights the sometimes problematic nature of donations. It is probable that the contract signed between the city and Severin Wunderman stipulates that all the works must be exhibited. The donation of a whole collection often leads to authenticity problems.
Regardless of the outcome of the affair, the museum, designed by Rudy Ricciotti, will open on 16 November 2011. It will house a permanent collection as well as works by prestigious artists such as Picasso, Modigliani and Miró. A section of the museum will also feature temporary exhibitions, a café and a library open to the public.