Villa San Michele, As Seen By François Halard

Words by Belmond Editors

Villa San Michele, As Seen By François Halard

Capturing the radiance of historic destinations, François Halard’s work is a meditation on the nature of beauty and the divine. Discover a new vision of a Florentine masterpiece through his eyes.

Throughout his career, François Halard has mastered the art of capturing natural elements in artful interiors and majestic portraits. While his photographs of the late Cy Twombly and Richard Avedon exude a sentiment of frank camaraderie and unfiltered tenderness, his images of Louise Bourgeois’ renowned arachnid sculptures offer his personal insight into abstract expressionism. Through his lens, even La Villa Noailles — the famed modernist house where the International Festival of Fashion, Photography and Accessories occurs every year in Hyères, Provence — appears to impart dramatic, deteriorated details.

His gaze is anchored in a world of ravishing beauty and prestigious history, which is the reason why he was the perfect option for capturing the legendary Villa San Michele. Originally constructed as a monastery in the early 15th century for Franciscan friars, the building is steeped in history, its walls covered in ancient frescoes that tell tales of a bygone era. And with Halard, every step taken within the villa's walls brings a new discovery, a new renewal of the senses. Details develop a richness through his lens, highlighting Villa San Michele’s cinematic, majestic, and artful aura.

His journey begins with the mythical threshold of the facade. A saturated shade of blue reigns in the sky, like a divine welcome at the moment of arrival. By the gate, he notices the imperceptibly eroded stone walls, enclosing centuries-old lush gardens. Inside, Halard silently searches for the human connection. He playfully toys with light and shadow to reveal the hotel's timeless beauty or seizes the dance of two hands in motion. Polaroids, indicative of cherished moments, are casually scattered under the sun.

In his Louis Vuitton ‘Fashion Eye’ book, Halard captured his journey to Greece, merging pillars of ancient architecture with contemporary scenes of local life. His latest book, 56 Days in Arles, is an anthology of mesmerising polaroids captured during the 2020 spring lockdown in his ‘hôtel particulier’ in the South of France. This is a central theme also found in his photographic vision of Villa San Michele, where he captures exceptional images, blurring the lines between past and present. From the terrace of La Loggia — Villa San Michele’s convivial restaurant — a deserted dining table awaits, eager to whisper the intimate stories of guests who have now withdrawn. François Halard’s photography is a sign of the times — an art in which he recomposes fragments of a story to reinvent a legend. At Villa San Michele, he captures exceptional images, blurring the lines between past and present.

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