Sunday, September 13, 2009
While in France recently I visited the charming city of Aix-en-Provence. It's right in the heart of Provence with good access to all the nearby places of interest-Les Baux, Rousillon, Gordes etc. Marseille, Nimes & Arles are not far either. I drew the land mark fountain from the Cours Mirabeau and a nearby manège.
I was in town to hit the Picasso trail. I checked out the Cezanne Picasso exhibition at the Musee Granet. There were some excellent examples on show-including Picasso's own collection of Cezanne paintings. The Spanish artist often cited Cezanne as his artistic master- Cubism was hugely influenced by Cezanne's work. I got to scrutinize works that I had only seen previously seen in print-including Cezanne's academic life drawings.
Next stop was a visit to the second to last home of Picasso. Towards the end of his life he purchased the imposing Chateau de Vauvenargues, in the foothills of the Mont St Victoire-the famous mountain that dominates the Provencal skyline & which featured so often in Cezanne's work.
This summer, for the first time, it has been opened to the public. I woke at the crack of dawn to queue for a ticket & later that day got to join a small tour around the whole building. We saw the living quarters, the studio & the large dining room where Picasso & Jacqueline entertained guests.
They are both buried there too, beneath a grassy mound outside the front door, the monumental bronze Woman with a Vase serving as a headstone.
The last house Picasso lived in was a villa close to the Notre Dame de Vie chapel in the hills above Mougins and Cannes. It took me forever to find the place. The artist must have enjoyed the privacy this location afforded him in old age. The villa is privately owned & inaccessible so I could only draw the ramshackle old chapel now in a state of disrepair. Picasso died here & after the Mougins authorities refused permission for a burial in the village his body was taken back to Vauvenargues instead.
There's one address Picasso lived at on the Cote d'Azur that I'm yet to see-the villa La Galloise at Vallauris. It holds special interest for me as the name translates as the Welsh house! Next time I'll find it . . .