Raymond Moralès, Musée Moralès (The Moralès Museum)

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Visiting Information

The site is not open to the public, the sculptures are visible from behind the wall that surrounds it

About the Artist/Site

Raymond Moralès, son of an immigrant from Spain, was born and raised in Port-de-Bouc in southern France. He learned the craft of ironworking alongside his father; after completing the years of required schooling in 1940, at age fourteen, he began working in the local shipyards. He worked in the Port-de-Bouc shipyards until they closed in 1966; after losing his job, he began a small business as a blacksmith, making ironwork such as handrails for stairs and ornaments for gardens. His daughter commented that even while working as an ironworker, however, Moralès was always an artist. Yet he was never interested in making a commercial venture of it; rather, he was just interested in expressing himself.

Around 1970 Moralès acquired a house with a large plot of land, some 5000 square meters (about 1 ¼ acres), situated by the side of the coastal road that runs along the Mediterranean between Port-de-Bouc and Fos-sur-Mer, west of Marseille. Although prior to this time he had already begun to express himself with painting and he had also made some sculptures from concrete, soon the main passion of this self-taught artist became making sculptures from forged and welded iron, taking advantage of some industrial equipment he had been able to acquire from the closed shipyard.

While he made some smaller sculptures, in general his creations are rather robust, human-scale or larger. He displayed them in the garden of his home, which, from the 1980s on, gradually became transformed into an open air sculpture museum. Moralès would ultimately make some 700 sculptures, and the site eventually became rather crowded. Many of the larger sculptures towered high over the wall that separates the garden from the busy coastal road.

Moralès didn’t have an optimistic view of life, and his sculptures are neither gentle nor calming; rather, they display the hard and frightful sides of human existence. Abstract and geometric images are juxtaposed with figurative elements, some seemingly referential to the anguished figures painted by fellow Spaniard Pablo Picasso in the painting Guernica.

During Moralès’s lifetime, the site was available for public visitation, but after his death—78 years, to the day, from his birth—the Musée Moralès was open only intermittently, and was permanently closed in 2007, a situation which persists to date. The future of this site is uncertain.

~Henk van Es

Map and site information

Avenue des Pins
Port-de-Bouc, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France
Latitude/Longitude: 43.422936 / 4.979489

Visiting Information

The site is not open to the public, the sculptures are visible from behind the wall that surrounds it


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