We’ve had a rage for art travel, art hotels and private art museums. But Forbes reminds us that all three are combined in a few collections that create a complete art and travel experience like Japan’s Benesse collection created by Soichiro Fukutake whose Naoshima Island museum complex houses Monet water lilies to rival those in L’Orangerie in Paris as well as current works by Lee Ufan and James Turrell
Even if you wake up at 7 a.m. at Benesse House—the $400-a-night hotel where many of Fukutake’s treasures are housed—you can indulge in an experience unique among the world’s finest resorts. With no guards or velvet ropes to block access, there is a museumful of blue-chip works to be explored, including a 1962 Giacometti bronze, a David Hockney swimming pool painting, a whitewashed Jasper Johns alphabet work and, surrounded by a sloping walkway, a 10-foot-tall neon-light sculpture by Venice Biennale winner Bruce Nauman, flashing provocative aphorisms in red, pink, blue and yellow: “Feel and Die,” “Fear and Live … .”
One of Fukutake’s goals for the islands is to see that his collection lives beyond his lifetime. “Through the project I’m searching for eternity,” he explains. “I want the art to be significant in any age.” To build his legacy, he has collaborated with Pritzker Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando, known for his minimalist sensibility, improbable angles and liberal use of smooth, unpainted concrete. Together they have created a complex of elegantly designed structures, three of them carved into the hills of Naoshima Island, a 5-square-mile outpost of rolling terrain, small villages and stunning views of the sea.