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Singer Laren, exhibition 'LA GRANDE BLEUE' 
From 12 September 2023 till 8 Januari 2024, the exhibition 'LA GRANDE BLEUE' was on show at Singer Laren. Soda made the design for it.

'LA GRANDE BLEUE' presents around 70 paintings by artists who travelled to the Mediterranean from the middle of the 19th century onwards to explore new artistic directions. The intense light, sharp contours and bright colours had a major impact on their development. Moreover, contact with local colleagues and fellow travellers led to exchanges and a further urge to experiment with relatively new ways of painting such as impressionism, pointillism, cubism and fauvism. The show features work by Leo Gestel, Charley Toorop, Kees van Dongen, Isaac Israels, Geer van Velde, Gustave Courbet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Henri Charles Manguin, Raoul Dufy, Pierre Bonnard, Yves Klein and Miquel Barceló, among others - with the latter depicting the present day drama of people crossing the Mediterranean.

Soda rendered the longing for the sea in subdued colours and carefully selected sightlines. In the process, Soda worked closely with the museum (curator Anne van Lienden and guest curator Fred Leeman) and graphic designer Esther Noyons. The minimalist approach was also applied to the graphic design and campaign image, created by Esther Noyons ( see the bottom image on this page. 


In the first room, Soda positioned a more than seven-metre-long print that immediately catches the eye upon entering. This print is based on an 1857 photograph by Gustave Le Gray. Soda converted Le Gray's photo to negative, which caused the colour scheme to change from sepia to blue.


One of the storylines is the emergence of (mass) tourism. Postcards illustrate how this forever changed the appearance of the initially empty coast with its fishing villages. Old postcards of 'unspoilt' locations are displayed in showcases and copies of the postcards are pasted under paintings depicting these 'idyllic' places. Paintings in a subsequent room depict clearly the rise of tourism. Analogue to this story, Soda here presents postcards from later periods in a plexiglas construction. They illustrate how the 'Côte d'Azure' transformed from a spot for the fashionable 'happy few' to a popular destination resulting in packed beaches and concrete hotels. This development is also reflected in the messages on the postcards; the holiday greetings cease to describe the charming landscape and focus mainly on the nice weather.


Photos: Suzanne Ophof
Design campaign image: Esther Noyons