In the 1970s, in the region of the Landes, between Bayonne and Peyrehorade, on the banks of the Adour River, the photographer Jeannette Leroy and the art dealer Paul Haim created a sculpture garden around a modest farm, La Petite Escalère.
With the help of faithful gardener Gilbert Carty, amidst canals, bridges, paths made of railway ties, and many trees and flowers, they installed about 50 works, some of them monumental, by artists such as Rodin, Maillol, Niki de Saint Phalle, Zao Wou-Ki, Françoise Lacampagne, Cárdenas, Mark Di Suvero, Léger, Matta, and Zigor.
Paul positioned the sculptures, and to help them vanish into the natural environment Jeannette would plant a shrub, a rosebush, dahlias, an oak, a maple, a gingko, a Caucasian walnut. "I don't want this garden to become ridiculous!" she said.
Paul Haim has evoked the bewitching beauty of La Petite Escalère better than anyone else.
"The nonchalant visitor will pass from the shade of Les Barthes to the brightness of the Moura, from the freshness of the fountains to the suffocating heat of the forest. Coming around a bush, he allows himself to be surprised by an unusual presence. Immutable. ... Far from the agitations of the world, sinking into nothing-ness, watching the clouds go by, contemplating the places of joy."
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