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The Tadao Ando designed Benesse Art Site Naoshima is a spectacular fusion of beauty in all its forms that is part sculpture park, part traditional gallery, and part art hotel.

The Benesse Art Site Naoshima is part sculpture park, part traditional gallery, and part art hotel. In tune with Luxuryculture.com's philosophy of "sharing the art of living well", Soichiro Fukutake, president of the Benesse Art Site Naoshima, describes the concept as, "A site to reflect on living well." Join us on a photo tour as we explore the four cornerstones of this extraordinary project: the art, the architecture, the island and the hotel.


Edito:

Pitched somewhere between an art museum, a sculpture park and the new breed of art hotel, the Benesse Art Site Naoshima is utterly unique. With a mission statement to combine contemporary art and architecture within the natural landscape of its stunning setting, the result is a spectacular fusion of beauty in all forms and one of the world's most exciting hotels.

Opened in 1992 on the island of Naoshima, in the Japanese province of Kagawa, the remote location ensures the hotel is still little known and remains a guarded secret amongst discerning travelers and art aficionados. Yet the Benesse Art Site was created by some of the leading creative forces of our time. Most of the architecture is provided by the legendary Japanese designer Tadao Ando, and the impressive roster of artists includes Yayoi Kusama and Hiroshi Sugimoto, as well as numerous emerging Japanese talents.


The Architecture

It was in 1992 that Tadao Ando built Benesse House, the first section of the Benesse Art Site Naoshima that remains the main hub of the hotel and exhibition spaces. Tadao Ando is one of the world's greatest living architects. London's Daily Telegraph has described his work as "a remarkable illusion: the walls may be built from blocks of concrete, but, from the inside at least, the building feels as if its primary materials were light and air." True to this statement, Benesse House is located on a plateau on the south side of the island facing the sea, with a structure that is open to the outside so that guests feel the presence of nature. Since this original building, Ando has designed and added several other structures and annexes, including Park and Beach, which are two accommodation wings that opened in 2006. At Park, all the rooms open onto a terrace that overlooks an art filled garden. Beach is located right in front of the sea on a stunning stretch of sand. Both these buildings seamlessly integrate with the surrounding forest and are amongst the few wooden structures designed by Ando. Indeed, the Benesse Art Site Naoshima is often cited as one of Ando's most important works. As well as Ando, the site features the work of the architect Ryue Nishizawa, who designed the Honmura Lounge, a library of works on artists involved with Benesse Art Site Naoshima.

The Art

Art is everywhere at Benesse Art Site Naoshima: in formal gallery spaces such as the Benesse House Museum, in the guest rooms and spa, dotted along the coastline and throughout the acres of forest. The permanent collection is made up of specially commissioned site-specific works. During this process, artists are invited to visit the site and pick the exact location where they would prefer to exhibit before creating their work with this environmental situation in mind. This has resulted in some of Benesse's most iconic pieces of art, including Yayoi Kusama's "Pumpkin".

Another interesting part of the permanent collection is the Art House Project. Opened in 1998, this uses the historic village of Honmura as a stage, with artists remodeling old houses to become monumental artworks. The traditional Japanese architecture of these houses ensures some fascinating reinterpretations.

The final part of the Benesse Art Site's collection is the Chichu Art Museum. This was designed to explore the relationship between nature and people and includes important works by Claude Monet, Walter de Maria and James Turrell.

The Hotel

It is the hotel at Benesse Art Site Naoshima that sets this project aside from other sculpture parks, art museums and galleries. Accommodation has been a feature since it first opened and is intrinsically integrated into the exhibition spaces, thanks in part to the architecture of Tadao Ando. All the guest rooms are located in Benesse House, across four distinct buildings. The 10 guest rooms in the Museum building are perhaps most integrated into the art, being the closest to the main exhibition spaces. These rooms also feature works by the likes of Sol LeWitt, Thomas Ruff and Jennifer Bartlett. In the Oval annex, the six exclusive suites are located at the top of a hill, connected to the Museum by a monorail. Here, the in-room artworks include pieces by Keith Haring and Richard Long. The main feature of the suites in the Beach and Park buildings are the panoramic views that overlook the artworks sited in the grounds and on the coastline. As well as the rooms, other hotel facilities at Benesse include a library, restaurants and a spa that utilizes the local seawater in thalassotherapy treatments. A stay at the hotel is a unique experience and a rare opportunity to temporarily live amongst museum-quality art.

The Island

Naoshima island is part of Japan's Kagawa prefecture and is located in the Seto Inland Sea. Over an area of 8.2 km sq, the island has a population of approximately 3,600, most of whom work in fishing or tourism. At the north of the island, an industrial area is dominated by the Mitsubishi Materials refinery. However, the south of the island lies within the Seto Inland Sea National Park, an area of outstanding natural beauty. It is here, amongst lush forest and on the dramatic sandy beaches that the Benesse Art Site Naoshima is located.

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