✅ Ben Jakober, born 1930 in Vienna.A man of the world. His life and vision is truly international: he grew up between Prague and a boarding school in Switzerland, lived in England, and among other places, Paris. When he turned 38, after having had a successful professional career, he decided to retir from the financial world, to start a new life linked to the world of art.
And so he came to our island, Mallorca. It was the golden age of the picturesque village of the Serra de Tramuntana, Deià, when the best known painters, philosophers, film directors and musicians met, took refuge and gathered among the cafes, hotels and private residences of this village on the north coast of Mallorca.
Jakober in 1993, together with his wife, the also renowned artist Yannick Vu, and his friend the famous philanthropist Georges Coulon Karlweis; founded a real jewel of Majorca, the Sa Bassa Blanca Museum in Alcudia.
The Yannick and Ben Jakober Foundation, known as MSBB (Museo Sa Bassa Blanca) in Mallorca is a real place of art. Nothing seems casual, because every detail, every corner you look at, it makes you “travel” and reminds you of the magic. That magic that only art can remind us of.
Visiting this space is quite a journey, because from the moment you arrive in Alcudia and enter the path (parallel to the route of the Es Coll Baix excursion) that takes you to the museum, it is quite a sensory experience in the midst of Mallorcan nature.
A journey where you have to slow down the vehicle, and at that point you can only enjoy the beauty of the surroundings.
When you arrive at the Sa Bassa Blanca Museum, you will find its spectacular architecture, a “ribat” designed by the famous Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy, who was responsible for creating an authentic Hispano-Moorish construction that has real elements (doors, floors, lattices…) brought and installed piece by piece in the new Balearic residence, from Andalusia, Morocco and areas of northern Spain.
A real work of art that, if it is spectacular on the outside, is worth visiting on the inside. A place where art does not understand time, age or limits. There is a piece of art for everyone, there are even tours designed so that children can enjoy art in a pleasant way. A true centre of leisure and education.
Yannick and Ben Jakober, an artistic binomial that was born from the beautiful encounter between two great friends, accomplices who married in 1978 after the death from cancer, of their nexus of union, the famous Italian artist Domenico Gnoli, first husband of Yannick Vu.
Jakober married at the age of 45, knowing full well that he had found his accomplice, his perfect life partner. With her, he began a new phase. A new journey where both decided to create, to add the art of both, as a single piece made by one artist.
At present, at the Foundation, we can also see artworks made individually, the art pieces made by both of them and their own art collection, as well as gifts and presents that they have received throughout their careers from their own artist friends. A journey fused with pieces from different periods, different cultures and above all different personal moments of their founders. A place where we can see the evolution of their lives, of society and of the artists who surrounded them or whom they admired. Behind each piece, there is a story.
▷ IN A SNAPSHOT. HIDDEN ICON
Yannick Vu, Ben Jakober and Sa Bassa Blanca Museum are for us, a perfect Hidden Icon. A tandem of talents who love art in every nuance of daily life. Who have decided to share, their art and their private collection. Although initially they focused their activity on bringing art closer to children, thanks to the different visits they organised with schools and educational centres, in recent times, this Museum has grown with a large number of visitors who enjoy the experience, and this year, it has increased with local visits in the absence of tourists due to the restrictions imposed by the COVID.
Sa Bassa Blanca Museum is a Balearic jewel that we all have to take care of, locals and tourists, visiting and recommending it to all those people who, we know, are going to enjoy such a magical space.
Below, the interesting interview with Ben Jakober.
We met at 4.30pm and when we arrived at 4.26pm we saw that Ben Jakober was already prepared. We were lucky enough to be welcomed before a scheduled trip to Marrakech (currently both artists live between the Moroccan city, where the artist’s family lives, and the island of Mallorca). He received us inside the Sa Bassa Blanca Museum, and kindly dedicated his time to us, we talked, visited the garden, and answered a few questions.
1.- DNA. Congratulations for having created MSBB, a Foundation so special and full of stories from the environment that surrounds it, to the architecture and the art works. Just like you, we love telling stories. What is yours? What brought you to Mallorca more than 50 years ago?
Yannick came to Deyá with her then husband Domenico Gnoli (who was my friend for many years) in 1963, attracted by the also artist Mati Klarwein. I came to see them several times and in 1968 I bought finca Mortitx of about 1000 hectares of mountain and settled there. Unfortunately Domenico died in 1970. I went to shoot a film in Niger in 1972 and Yannick, who had just arrived from India, came to join the expedition. The rest is history…
2- CREATIVITY. Ideas, creativity and innovation as a pillar for artists What have you done to keep it active during the confinement and the current exceptional period we are living through? Have new ideas, new projects emerged?
Ideas and creativity do not stop in adverse times; on the contrary, they sometimes stimulate these senses. We were confined to Morocco where we now live for much of the year and work in contact with the museum and with many new projects.
3- CREATIVE PROCESS: How is your creative process both with your work and through the Collection and Activities ?
Arthur Koestler defines the act of the creative process as bringing together two different elements and with the arrival of a third idea or the appearance of an object they combine to bring light to a new form and the result “Eureka” I got it! A kind of cross-fertilisation between different disciplines migrating from one domain to another. Ideas spin in the air and sometimes confront each other until they come together for a stable combination. Or as in chemistry, it happens that an accidental discovery comes out that you weren’t looking for. You have to break the rules. Art is also about chaos.
4- INSPIRATION. Philosophy, music, art, literature, landscape, environment, design are very present in all your projects. Which have accompanied you throughout your career and especially in Covid’s time?
There is no single factor that inspires but, it is always a combination of factors and the environment.
5- BASICS. The playlist, book or film that accompanies you
Books by past masters and readings from current writings are of course a great influence.
6- WUNDERKAMMER. As if it were a personal Wunderkammer or Chamber of Wonders, we see a bet in which the megalithic culture coexists perfectly, with the Arab culture (especially present through the architecture of Hassan Fathy), the Japanese, Persian, Chinese, modern and contemporary, among others. What are the main references and how would you describe the link or line of research that you follow through your work and the Foundation’s exhibition?
Jean-Hubert Martin with his ‘Magiciens de la Terre’ has certainly been a great influence on the way what we present today at MSBB has evolved. It is a presentation (like our life) of non-linear cultures, a mixture of different perspectives that complement each other, dialogue with each other and often even come close. For example we put together the great Brice Marden with the also great Aboriginal artist Emily Kame or a Narwhal tooth with a tapestry showing a mythical unicorn, or a Francis Bacon with masks of sick people with deformed faces and a large etc. There is a great variety of subjects to stimulate the senses. We love the art of many eras and cultures and want to present a selection in an aesthetically coherent and spiritually related way.
7- NATURE. Linked both to the environment and to that reference to megalithic and Arab culture that we mentioned, the garden becomes a magical space, Nature has a privileged place in your work and in the Foundation. How has it influenced you?
The motto was Art, Architecture, Nature; but probably the order has been reversed and the park and gardens in this wonderful Mallorcan setting have now captured the priority.
8- HIDDEN. From Hidden we love to make known and discover exceptional, authentic places and people; stepping out of the day to day, of the most known and so we have experienced MSBB. How do you invite through your art and the Foundation to discover and live those unique experiences?
“Hidden” of course because the visitor after arriving at the other point of the island has to go through a forest road of more than 3 km. We try to make the place known through the social networks and informative editorials but never through paid advertising. We think that what we propose, being so special, will be better known along the way. We were on a good path, increasing the number of visitors every year, reaching around 20,000 in 2019; but the current situation has made us backtrack and this year we will only be able to welcome a third of them, which means that we will need several years to recover the dynamic, with a very significant loss of income. In this respect we think, and our board of directors supports us, that in these times it is an indispensable service that we have the duty to propose to society.
*The Sa Bassa Blanca Museum Board of Trustees is formed by Presidents Yannick and Ben Jakover, vice-president Anthonie Stal and vocal members: Alfonso Fierro March, Sebastián Escarrer, Franz Prinz von Auersperg, Sofía Carmen Barroso, Enrique Juncosa, Cristina López Macaya and honorary trustees Michael Douglas, Joan Buades Feliu, Michael Prentice, Aimery Langlois-Meurinne.
9.- INTERNATIONAL. With a clearly international origin and vocation through the exhibitions. In the face of the current reduction in movement, how do you propose the international strategy of the Foundation for the coming years?
The strategy is more or less the same – that is to say, to incorporate new work but it is always in complement with the traced subject. Before the pandemic our visitors were 85% foreigners, now they are 70% Mallorcan families. We hope that the Mallorcan public will continue to come, when the foreign visitors can return.
10-COVID. How are you tackling the post phase and the total reopening of the Foundation? Have you considered offering something different or have you programmed new events, any novelty that you can tell us about? How do you react from the world of culture and what are the new challenges in a COVID scenario?
Today the way to succeed in the long term perspective is to get the short term plans right.
11- HIDDEN ICON. This initiative aims to put a face on successful or emerging talent who have a dream and are committed to it. You bet on your career as artists and a different project in Mallorca. You managed to set up this impressive Foundation… and see it grow. What would you recommend to people who have a dream and are afraid of it, to take the initiative and bet on it?
We are proud to be included in your “Hidden Icon” programme because it totally coincides with our ideas of proposing a place out of the ordinary and that people who love art in the way we present it should come and visit us. Of course we don’t aspire to a mass and bus tour, but this is not a business and our obligation and indeed our deepest desire is, to provide a service to the community that you won’t find elsewhere.
Our career as artists has turned into museum animators and this place should not be by any means the aim of projecting ourselves as artists, but on the contrary, it is to put in value other artists and cultures. We have no advice or recommendations to give to others, only to welcome those who want to be inspired by some facet of what we have done here. It is through a staff of very dedicated people, a board that will ensure the future and a benevolent public that our dream will be fulfilled.
Mallorca’ s Best kept Secret.
Ben Jakober shares with us his recommendations to get to know “another” Mallorca.
- Must go: Without a doubt, the most architecturally incredible hotel in Mallorca, designed by Toni Obrador, the now so famous luxury hotel, Hotel Cap Rocat.
- Must see: Apart from the beauty of the surroundings of Sa Bassa Blanca Museum (laughs), I recommend enjoying a trip through the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range towards Pollença or Sa Calobra. A journey that is a jewel, depending on how the light affects it, provides a different reflection.
- Must do: Remember to rest on this island, but after enjoying the sun, and our unspoilt beaches, you must learn about the history, culture and rich tradition of the Balearic Islands.
Ben Jakober, an artist with all the words. Co-Founder with his wife, artist Yannick Vu of the Sa Bassa Blanca Museum (MSBB), a place where different cultures, the past and present of renowned artists, the history of its founders and their particular vision of their life in the form of art in a luxurious setting, with views of the mountains and the sea of Mallorca. Visiting the Sa Bassa Blanca Museum in Alcudia is a perfect activity to do this Autumn in Mallorca. If you want to organize an activity or a special visit do not hesitate to contact us.