Musée Cantini Marseille
Visit the

Cantini museum

a museum located in the city centre of Marseille

Discover the Cantini museum, a former private Mansion that houses an important Contemporary art collection. A must-see -if you are interested in the Arts- located in the city centre.

The history of the ‘Cantini’ museum

‘Cantini’ museum is  located in a former private Mansion located in the heart of the city. It was built in 1694 by ‘Cap Nègre’ company and was bought by the Montgrand  family who owned it until 1801. Afterwards, it had numerous owners before being acquired by Jules Cantini an important marble mason who took part in the construction of many civil and religious buildings in Marseille during the second empire.

After this acquisition and out of love for Art in 1916 Jules Cantini donated it to the  city so that it  could become a museum dedicated to the art of our time. Modern Art is the heart of the museum’s  exhibitions. Post impressionism, Fauvism, Cubism and the various post cubist tendencies of 1930 are put foward and a wide panorama of works from these currents are  presented.

Its permanent collection from the 20th century

Its modern period, from 1900 and 1960, shows a break with ‘Ancient Art’, traditionnal of the 17th century. The prestigious establishment in Marseille devotes its exhibitions to this period.

Great artists have played an important role in the 20th century current such as: Henri Matisse, Oskar Kokoschka, Pablo Picasso, Jean Arp, Alberto Giacometti, Balthus, Antonin Artaud and Francis Bacon. The collection of the Cantini Museum, highlights these great individualities.

The collection from 1920 to 1940

Major artistic movement of the 20th century, the Fauvism(Charles Camoin, Émile Othon Friesz, André Derain, Alfred Lombard) is an integral part of the collection. The first cubist experiments (Raoul Dufy, Albert Gleizes), 1920-1640 (Le Corbusier, Fernand Léger, Jacques Villon, Jean Hélion), are also  exhibited.

The beginning of the 20th century is also marked by the fascination of some artists for the  light and meridional landscape: ‘Cassis’  by Derain in  1907, ‘The mediterranean landscape’ realized by Friez in the  same  year, ‘Estaque’  painted, on Cezanne’s path, by Dufy in 1908.

The surrealist revolution constitutes an important part in the collection. Gathered around André Breton and his wife Jacquelin Lamba, many artists such as Victor Brauner, Matta, André Masson, Jacques Hérold, Max Ernst or Joan Miró have made this artistic revolution a major axis of their art.

The game of Marseille created by the  members of the  surrealist  group at the  Villa Air Bel in  1940-1941 has been offered in 2003 to Cantini museum by Aube and Oona Elleouet Breton.

The lyrical on gestrural abstraction is represented by works from artists like Nicolas de Staël, Camille Bryen, Simon Hantaï, Arpad Szenès, Maria Elena Vieira da Silva.

The collection from 1950-1990

The museum keeps a set of works from the japanese group Gutai which was very active in the 1955-60 and remains close to the  French informal movement with the critic and theorist Michel Tapié.

The following decades are illustrated by different pictorial trends. The “matiériste”experience in the 50’s is represented by Jean Dubuffet, Antonio Saura, Antoni Tàpies, Jean-Paul Riopelle, and abstract landscapes in large formats are represented by Olivier Debré, Raoul Ubac, Pierre Tal-Coat et Hans Hartung.

The photographic collections of the museum

Beyond the permanent exhibitions, the museum offers photographic collection highlights the panorama of the 20th century arts, since the most historical period.

We  can see many artists such as : Édouard Baldus, Olympe Aguado, the Bisson brothers, Charles Nègre, Gustave Le Gray, Francis Bruguière.

To honnor the city, many modernist photographs around the transborder bridge from the 1930-1940th are also exhibited (Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Herbert Bayer, René Zuber, Florence Henri, Man Ray, Germaine Krull, or  also André Papillon).

This panorama of photographies extends to the 1960s and 1970s, with shots by Jean-Pierre Sudre, Jean Dieuzaide, Linda Benedict Jones, Ralph Gibson, and Martine Franck.

Today, the Cantini musem owns one of the greatest modern art collection in France.

Useful information

The Cantini museum is open everyday except on mondays (as well as easter and whit monday ).
Exceptional closure on : 1 January, 1 May, 1 and 11 November, 25 and 26 December.

Opening time: 10 am – 6 pm (subject to change according to the season)

Full price: 6€.
Reduced rate : 3€
Free admission on the 1st Sunday of each month.