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Monet, Renoir and Chagall at Les Bassins de Lumières

Les Bassins de Lumières - which can be fittingly translated as “the pools of light” - is the largest digital art centre in the world and home to a new exhibition that plunges visitors deep into the masterpieces of renowned painters Monet, Renoir and Chagall. This immersive digital exhibition, ‘Journeys Around the Mediterranean’, reflects the passion felt by so many artists for the Mediterranean coast, from impressionism to modernity.  We shine a light on this extraordinary cultural event that mesmerises with its dazzling colours.

Les Bassins de Lumières - The largest digital art centre in the world

Five times larger than L’Atelier des Lumières in Paris, an old submarine base - a sombre vestige of the second world war - revealed a new purpose last June. With four 110 metre-long pools of water, a projection surface area of 12,000 m² and 90 projectors, Les Bassins de Lumières is recognised as the largest digital art in the world. Interactive, monumental in size and immersive: the success of this project drawn up by Culture Espace owes nothing to chance. Indeed, it took 19 months of work to end up at this point where the concrete walls and pools of water reflect some of the most beautiful works in the history of art and contemporary creation in a jaw-dropping, otherworldly atmosphere. Masterpieces from around the world leap out of their frames and canvases, dancing around the venue in experiential projections that run 12 metres high and 22 metres wide to a matching high-quality musical backdrop. Walk among colours, observe fascinating forms in the water’s reflections and make out a path between light and shadow. The pioneering 2020 Klimt exhibition beat all records, despite the unprecedented context, attracting over 500,000 visitors.

Pictorial modernity born in the Mediterranean

Through 7 sequences, the latest exhibition transports us from one artistic movement to another, plunging us into the masterpieces of around 20 artists. It’s an immersive journey on the train of modernity, mirroring the journey of Renoir, Monet, Pissaro, Matisse, Signac, Derain, Vlaminck, Dufy and Chagall, who set off for the Mediterranean by train from 1880 onwards. The famed coastline had become accessible thanks to a new Paris-Lyon-Marseille trainline, which seduced artists, sure to find a new palette of colours there. From Collioure to Saint-Tropez, the Mediterranean coast became the new playground for painters as new conceptions of light and colour developed at speed. The fascination for the Mediterranean, felt in the work of masters of the art and portrayed across many movements, is on show here: Monet’s impressionism, the pointillism movement of Renoir, Signac and Cross, as well as the fauvism movement of Camoin, Derain, Vlaminck, Marquet and - of course - Matisse. Going from Bonnard to Dufy, we eventually reach the work of one the great colourists of modern art, Chagall.

Exposition au Bassins des Lumières
© Lefevre Fine Art Ltd., London © Bridgeman Images

More than 500 works brought together over 12,000 m², from floor to ceiling

While these famous paintings may have been spread across the world, Les Bassins de Lumières is bringing them all together for a few months. Powerful, dazzling colours take possession of the floor, the reflections in the water, the walls, overflowing the whole space, showcasing the artists’ sensitivity to the famous Mediterranean coastline’s thousand different variations. The projections match the monumental architecture of “the submarine base” (known simply as ‘La Base sous-marine’) perfectly. Each work is animated and formed piece by piece, brushstroke by brushstroke, giving the illusion of the sunlight glistening on the sea. In ‘la Citerne’ (the tank) you can find out about each work of art: its name and the museum where it is on show.

The supporting exhibition: ‘Yves Klein, the infinite blue’

Accompanying the exhibitionists is a shorter ‘warm-up’ exhibition of under fifteen minutes on the work of Yves Klein. Klein was also an admirer of the Mediterranean and, for him, colour took on a spiritual, metaphysical dimension, such as can be found in his famous IKB (International Klein Blue). His Anthropometry sees body imprints traced in his famous blue, his Cosmogony depicts nature and his Planetary Reliefs are shown to the backdrop of the stirring, vibrant sounds of Vivaldi and the electronic rhythms of Thylacine.

Yves Klein
The work of Yves Klein


Look out for the immersive audiovisual experience, ‘EVERYTHING’, split into three parts. Le Cube is a space dedicated to contemporary artists working in immersive art. It is 220 m² in surface and 8 metres high, inviting the visitor to observe the elements around them, questioning their existence and imagining new possibilities.


‘La Base sous-marine’ is an artistic, community-focused hub that oozes creativity, as seen both in the upcoming January concerts of Arnaud Rebotini, Traumer and Djedjotronic and their hanging vegetable garden project. Found between two pools, there is a space dedicated to the history of the base, taking us deep into the archives of this immense naval vestige, from its construction to its reconversion, in particular via contemporary films and a spectacular projection of a German submarine.

Access to the exhibition is included in the Bordeaux CityPass

Practical information


Base sous-marine
Impasse Brown de Colstoun
33300 Bordeaux

Opening hours

Open every day

See also