Very few hotels around the world carry a reputation like Marrakech, Morocco’s La Mamounia. Opened in 1923, the magnificent venue has played host to some of the world’s most acclaimed figures—be that politicians or celebrities—and its storied 200-year-old gardens began in the 18th century as a wedding gift, to Prince Moulay Mamoun from his father, King Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah. While the hotel has long maintained its flawless reputation, the building and its land now play host to something rather different: a colorful pop-art exhibition featuring the works of French sculptor Julien Marinetti.
The exhibition, “Ma.. Ma.. Ma.. Exhibition Experience,” is composed of 35 different sculptures created over the last few years and drawn from Marinetti’s workshop in Saint-Germain-des-Près, France. The dogs, penguins, pandas and ducks range from one to seven feet tall. Each has been crafted from bronze and some have been finished with industrial lacquer, lending a playful and exciting edge.
It’s the placement of the sculptures, however, that makes this experience so unique. La Mamounia underwent three years worth of renovations between 2006 and 2009. During that time, a deco-style 1980s renovation was lifted and, in its place, celebrated architect and interior decorator Jacques Garcia emboldened its original Moroccan design flourishes. The result is modernized traditionalism, and the grand impact is wondrous. The juxtaposition of modern art with these classic elements is not only striking but clever. Penguins stand among meticulous Moroccan tile work, while a massive bulldog stands watch outside of a cafe amid eight acres of gardens.
Among the works are many from Marinetti’s “Doggy Johns” series. These French bulldogs stand as greeters and guardians of entrances. They also line a grand walkway through the center of La Mamounia’s gardens. Despite each being distinct, they never feel out of place. They add to the creative environment and further reflect the hotel’s commitment to the arts. La Mamounia doesn’t need to host exhibitions to draw guests, but they have. And it’s both fun and thoughtful—and worth checking out in person.
The “Ma.. Ma.. Ma.. Exhibition Experience” will run through 30 September 2015.
Images by David Graver