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Art at Chateau Lacoste
Art at Chateau Lacoste
Michel Guerrin

AIX-EN-PROVENCE — Here, the vineyard traces the pathways of art. It usually is the other way around, whereby a well-known vineyard expands its activities (rooms for rent, a restaurant, exhibitions) to attract more wine buyers. But at Château La Coste, 15 kilometers from Aix-en-Provence in southeastern France, the cultural offer is so rich that people sometimes come just for that. The good news is that the wines are are often still extraordinary.

At La Coste, visitors can spend two hours, four hours, or even a whole day; you can lunch and dine outdoors, have some tea, lie on the grass under the stars and watch a Woody Allen or Coen Brothers' movie; attend a concert or a lecture; buy books; wander in the vegetable garden or explore the wine cellar; see buildings designed by famous architects and numerous works of art. As of last December, you can even spend the night in sumptuous villas. Hang around, the place encourages it. Château La Coste is a magnificent site that enjoys 300 days of sunshine a year.

At the center of the property is a long, stripped-down building designed by the Japanese architect Tadao Ando. It is surrounded by an artificial lake, with a three-meter wide spider that seems to be dancing before your eyes: it was sculpted by the legendary Louise Bourgeois. There is also a black, yellow and red mobile by Alexander Calder.

The vineyard occupies about half of the 123-hectare Château La Coste estate. Most of the art and architecture promenade takes place on a hill covered in downy oak. The cost for visitors is 15 euros, and picnicking is strictly forbidden. "The artists don't like it," says one member of the Château staff.

Attracted by all that is perfect.

Starting with the bridge built by Larry Neufeld, cross over a large void, then sink into a dark lair, enter strange buildings, discover imposing sculptures, come upon golden wolves, retrace your steps when you take a wrong turn. You need to accept getting lost to see the works of world-renowned artists such as Bourgeois and Calder, as well as Richard Serra, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Sean Scully, Lee Ufan, Jean-Michel Othoniel, Tracey Emin and others. Not all of them are represented by major sculptures, but their works fit in well with the landscape.

Finally, art is also in the wine. Though Château La Coste is a recent project, wine has been produced here since 200 BC, first by the Greeks, then the Romans, then monks and Provençal counts. The site is now owned by a discreet Irish businessman, Patrick McKillen, who bought it in 2004 after making a fortune in real estate. McKillen, a friend of U2 singer Bono, also co-owns some London hotels like Claridge's, The Connaught and The Berkeley.

Mathieu Cosse, who was recruited in 2006 to make state-of-the-art wine at La Coste, says McKillen "is attracted by everything that's perfect," to explain his multiple investments. "Art and wine elevate one another," says Cosse. "We don't do tourism first or wine first or art first. It's a project that embraces it all. And it's unique in France."

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Geopolitics

Capitol Riot, Brazil Style? The Specter Of Violence If Bolsonaro Loses The Presidency

Brazilian politics has a long history tainted with violence. As President Jair Bolsonaro threatens to not accept the results if he loses his reelection bid Sunday, the country could explode in ways similar to, or even worse, than the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol after Donald Trump refused to accept his defeat.

Supporters of Brazil presidential candidates Bolsonaro and Lula cross the streets of Brasilia with banners ahead of the first round of the elections on Oct. 2.

Angela Alonso

-Analysis-

SÂO PAULO — Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro delivered a message to his nation this year on the anniversary of its independence day, September 7. He recalled what he saw as the nation’s good times, and bad, and declared: “Now, 2022, history may repeat itself. Good has always triumphed over evil. We are here because we believe in our people and our people believe in God.”

It was a moment that’s typical of how this president seeks to challenge the democratic rules. Bolsonaro has been seen as part of a new populist global wave. Ahead of Sunday's first round of voting, the sitting president is trailing in the polls, and former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva could even tally more than 50% to win the race outright and avoid an Oct. 30 runoff. Bolsonaro has said he might not accept the results of the race, which could spark violence from his supporters.

However, Brazil has a tradition of political violence. There is a national myth that the political elite prefer negotiation and avoid armed conflicts. Facts do not support the myth. If it did all major political change would have been peaceful: there would have been no independence war in 1822, no civil war in 1889 (when the republic replaced the monarchy) and, even the military coup, in 1964, would have been bloodless.

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