The town of Cagnes-sur-Mer has been promoting modern jewellery for over 20 years. Set up in 1991, the Solidor Gallery bears the name of the famous cabaret singer Suzy Solidor who left Paris in 1960 to set up home in Haut-de-Cagnes. She opened an antique shop (now the gallery) and a cabaret (now a shared atelier for artists in residence under the gallery).
The first jewellery exhibition was organised in 1993 at the Grimaldi Castle Museum, working with jewellers based in Biot (Claude Pelletier, Denis Essayie, Arlette Baron and their friend Henri Gargat who all worked with the great Swedish artist Torun) and the Nîmes Fontblanche Workshops, run by Gilles Jonemann and Joël Faivre-Chalon. The remarkable location of Haut-de-Cagnes, the quality of this exhibition and the interest that it aroused among the public and artists encouraged the town of Cagnes-sur-Mer to dedicate itself to contemporary jewellery. Work began in 1999 to overhaul the gallery with a view to hosting jewellery exhibitions and so the Solidor Centre was created.
The Centre ventured beyond French borders for the first time in 2010, by supporting the exhibition entitled “Also known as jewellery”, which brought together seventeen makers living in France. The show, which was curated by Christian Alandete and Benjamin Lignel, was hosted by the French Institute in Munich, as part of the annual Munich Jewellery Week.
In 2008, work began to expend the Centre and create two new rooms, including a documentation room. In 2011, Cagnes-sur-Mer hosted the Schmuck exhibition, the world’s longest-running juried – and most illustrious – contemporary jewellery exhibition (it is run, since 1959, by the Munich Handwerksmesse).
Over the last 20 years, the town of Cagnes-sur-Mer has purchased a great many pieces of jewellery from its temporary shows, and built a unique collection of over 110 works. The centre, which was recently renamed the Museum of Contemporary jewellery – Espace Solidor, is the only public space dedicated solely to contemporary jewellery in France.