St Paul de Vence
We are just back from a 5 day trip to the South of France courtesy of some very generous hosts who gave us accommodation, food, company and treats- taking us around. It was an art tour. I am not great at holidays. It takes me a while to work it out, so having a focus: art, gardens, wine or whatever, makes it easier to relax and enjoy. As art is one of our loves we were lucky that it was shared on this trip.
Fondation Maeght in St Paul de Vence is architecturally worth a visit. Coupled to this are some stunning art in the permanent collection including works by Calder and Caro and a beautiful painting by Bonnard and Braque, currently on display. There are also a courtyard full of Giacometti and a courtyard of Miro. The current exhibition is not my thing at all so I won’t mention the name of the artist!
The Matisse Chapel in Vence is so wonderful and we were lucky to time our visit with a brief, clear and excellent talk in English about its history and meaning. The colours that he selected and the work and method of making it were also explained, but really succinctly. This is his last major work before he died and he said ‘I was born irreligious and I am finishing divine’! Beautiful, meaningful and spiritual. What more can you ask from art?
Matisse Chapel, Vence
The Picasso Museum in Antibes is also a must. If you only see one work, the Ulysses and the Sirens piece is worth the visit. The whole place is full of his brilliance and also lots of photos of him and his wife which are full of life too. The place is set by the sea so the views are wonderful and the building is beautiful. The interiors are over- restored which is a shame, but still what a setting and what wonderful works.
There was also an exhibition on of a husband and wife artist. His name was Hans Hartung, but it was his wife’s work Anna-Eva Bergman (originally from Norway) that was wonderful. I had never heard of her before and I am now a great fan.
There was also a fabulous film by Iris Sarah Schiller ‘The Hair of my Mother’ made in 2003, which we sat and watched. Simple and very profound.
We also liked one work by Pierrette Bloch (1975) which looked a bit like tiny dots of code.
In Nice we were taken to Villa Arson. The current exhibition has some good works in and the film by Ben was very worth the trip. We did not have time to visit the student show which was a shame.
We also were taken to a concert of Celtic music played in a monastery in the hills of Nice, performed by the legendary Jordi Savall. Wow!
And a dinner at the Colombe d’Or, where you can skip the food for the art on the walls.
Finally, we also went to La Station in Nice where there is an exhibition on Australian art. Some very good pieces. But the really great part of our visit there was that Le Station also contains artists studios and by sheer chance we met Jean-Baptiste Ganne. What joy to discuss his works and what wonderful works. His Morse code version of Don Quixote, which he has shown in many places, was brilliant. He tried to show us his new work, but there was a temporary electronic problem so we went off to look at other work. I came by just as it was working so I got a solo show. A round curvaceous lamp lights up (lamp is feminine in French) and a man’s voice says ‘Look at me’ and other messages. Wonderful. All art needs to be looked at. The viewer completes the picture. It was funny, poignant, profound and simple. It goes on show in Switzerland with one part of the audio saying ‘huh, I thought I was going to be shown in Basle and I end up here’. Every artist will understand. Lovely. Thank you very much Mr Ganne.
I did not know so much great work and so many great places existed in the Cote d’Azur. Thank you very much to our wonderful hosts; true gems.