Contemporary art has been present on the island of Vassivière since the summer of 1983, and the first international granite sculpture symposium. Its aim was to bring together contemporary creations and local traditional materials such as granite and wood. The Millevaches plateau’s subsoil is almost exclusively composed of granite, a crystalline rock made of feldspath, quartz and mica, whose specks are visible to the naked eye.
Marc Sautivet and Dominique Thebault created an association of art aficionados. It organizes this granite sculpture forum, called « L’île aux Pierres », or Stone island, with Limousin’s stonework network, and financial support from the state.
Artists who have been selected to participate in the event are greeted and supported by locals, who are delighted to watch stone being transformed into works of art. These artworks belong to the association and remain in Vassivière. They are part of the outdoor museum, in the southern part of the island, by the footbridge.
In addition to the symposium, the « LAC&S Limousin Art Contemporain et Sculpture » association set up a policy to enhance the outdoor museum by ordering new artwork, on a regular basis. This is why «Solstice d’été» (Summer Solstice) was created by François Bouillon. It comes to life every year on June 21st.
Vassivière, which was already a popular holiday destination, thus became an artistic destination, even if most of the island was still used for farming at the time.
The idea of a contemporary art centre sprung in 1985 and became reality in 1989 with support from the state and the region, in keepingwith a policy that had already begun in Limousin, with the contemporary art centre in Meymac.
The island’s collection and artwork gradually opened up to new materials, besides granite and wood.
Today, there are 65 works of art in the Sculpture Forest, which fit in perfectly with the landscape.