Villa Noailles is a national contemporary art center in the city of Hyères, France. Founded in 1920s by the couple of benefactors Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles, the Villa Noailles is an early modernist house built by the architect Robert Mallet-Stevens. At the time, it was the meeting point of the artistic avant-garde, with great names such as Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti, Jean Cocteau, or Luis Buñuel. It was acquired by the municipality of Hyères in the 1970s and after a long renovation, it opened to the public as an art center in the 1990s.
From March to May 2021, the Villa Noailles hosted an exhibition called Archi-ville. Hyères, l’architecture de la ville en dessin (English: Archi-city. Hyères, the architecture of the city in drawings). It focused on the representations of the city through the notion of pittoresque, which etymologically means “worth of being painted”. The 18th century was the beginning of tourism, and the birth of the postcard: only at that time the “postcard” was in fact a small painting brought as a souvenir from a destination, representing memorable views of a city, exaggerating the lights or creating montages of monuments that were far from close to each other. In this perspective, the curators of the exhibition collected diverse paintings of Hyères, whether they be from professional artists or amateurs, and invited their resident artists and students from the high school of the city to create their own interpretation of the city.
To illustrate this position, graphic designer Marc Armand, in charge of Villa Noailles’ identity, designed two posters that almost resemble stage setting. In fact, the posters show two paintings intertwined, one of them playing the role of a frame and the other put at the center of the format. The central painting changes between the two posters, one showing a residential building with cars parked at the bottom and the other representing a church: each poster plays with the chromatic scale of its center. This setting makes us perceive the artificial aspect of the city imagined in the painting.
Marc Armand used Kreuz (Production Type) for the title Archi-ville and Villa Noailles’ standard identity typeface Agrandir (Pangram Pangram) for the other info. The boldness of Kreuz and its harsh design shows how the city can be industrial. The bold weight of the letters echoes the brushstrokes of the background’s painting – it mimics it, with a subtle color gradation.