This year marks the 40th anniversary of Pablo Picasso’s passing in the French Riviera town of Mougins.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of Pablo Picasso’s passing in the French Riviera town of Mougins. The legendary Spanish artist spent the last third of his long life (1881-1973) based in the South of France.
Antibes The Picasso Museum on the seafront at Antibes
Over three productive decades he painted evrywhere from the beaches of Antibes to the village of Vallauris and the cobblestone streets of St-Paul-de-Vence. And throughout 2013, the Frence Riviera celebrates its most famous adopted son with one-off events,festivals and several massive exhibitions.
Picasso first took up residence in the South of France in 1946. Antibes’ local municipality offered the artist a studio in a 14th-century castle on the seafront,the Chteau Grimaldi.After six months of intense productivity – he even painted directly on the castle walls – Picasso gifted the 23 paintings and 44 drawings he created during this period to the city. They are now on show at Antibes’Musee Picasso (www.antibes-juanlespins.com).In February of 1957, this museum was officially recognised as the first museum in the world to be wholly dedicated to the artist.
The Colombe d’Or is as informal as it is exclusive
The museum now spills over most of the Chaiteau. It’s croweded with works by Picasso including still-lives,nudes and snapshots of daily life,such as traditional dishes still served up by the simple restaurants still line Antibes’waterfront.It also houses Michel Sima’s black and white photographs of the artist in action. In addition,five unique Picasso Ceramic Museum in antibes. All five of the artworks were created in the nearby town of Vallauris in 1948.
Picasso stumbled upon Vallauris,a sleepy town 8km inland from Antibes, during his very first visit to te Cote d’Azur in the mid-1920s. But it was only two decades later that the artist developed a keen interest in Vallauris’established tradition of pottery making. This local craft was widely considered a native pastime, with but a handful of regional ateliers existig by the mid 20th century.
Picasso soon changed the art world’s attitude. He spent extensive periods between 1948 and 1955 at the town’s Madoura workshop along with fellow artist and friend Mare Chagall.The Spaniard went on to create close to 4,000 elaborate vases,plates,bowls and carefes. these ceramics attracted serious international collectors and helped revive local industry. It was also here that the artist met his second wife,Jacqueline Roque,a cousion of owners Suzanne and georges Ramie,who was employed at Maoura at the time. Forty-six years her senior,picasso wooed 27-year-old Jacqueline for month,eventually marrying her in 1961.
The sun-dappled garden of the Restaurant Colombe d’Or. Mural on the wall of the Colombe d’Or’s alfresco restaurant in St Paul-de- Vencet. Diners are allowed to peek behind the honey- stone walls at the Colombe d’Or’s art collection
Today the galerie Madoura (www.madoura.com) remains dedicated to Picasso. It offers dozens of his quirky bird,bull-dotted or faun-splased ceramics for sale to visitors. Installed in the town’s 12th-century chapel, War & Peace is Picasso’s massive 1952 tribute to pacifism, now a national museum(La Guerre et la Paix,www.musees-nationaux-alpesmaritimes.fr)and all things Picasso are celebrated annually in the town’s Vallauris Picasso Festival (Vallauris Fete Picasso, 20 July 2013).
Picasso was as gregarious as he was prolific, as another nearby postcard-perfect town proves.In St-paul-de-Vence sits the La Colombe d’Or (www.la-colombe-dor.com), a restaurant tucked into the citrus-cloaked hills between Antibes and Nice. paul Roux, a passionate art collector,opened this establishment in 1920,encouraging up-and-coming artists to swap thier canvasses for room and board. Although hardly starving or strapped for cash,Picasso sdored La Colombe d’Or. It went on to become one of his regular haunts-and a place tomeet up with the era’s most renowed artists,plus glittering film stars escaping from the glamour of the nearby Cannes Film festival such as Sofia Loren and Brigitte Bardot.
Femme couchée à la mèche blonde, (21 décembre 1932) Huile sur toile, Collection Ezra et David Nahmad
Ever popular,La Colombe d’Or still Remains a family affair Paul’s descendebt Marie Roux remembers:”When paul was dying,Picasso went to visit him with two paintings under his arm,leaving one at the restaurant.I think he just liked the atmosphere.”Today visitors to the restaurant are allowed exclusive access to La Colombe’s collection,which also includes masterpieces by Joan Miro,Jean Cocteau and Henri Matisse.
Perched above Cannes,nearby Mougins was Picasso’s final residence and atelier.The artist and his young wife Jacqueline moved to the secluded villa Notre-Dame de Vie in 1961,seeking solitude from a stream of all too devoted fans and Picasso’s incessantly increasing notoriety.Yet 25 years earlier,this enchanting town was also the spot where Picasso spontaneously decorated the wall of his guest room at Hotel Les Muscadins with a colourful fresco.The proprietor- in a fir of rage that he now no doubt deeply regrets-promptly painted over this priceless artwork.
Yet 25 years earlier, this enchanting town was also the spot where Picasso spontaneously decorated the wall of his guest room at Hôtel Les Muscadins with a colourful fresco
As part of this year’s celebrations, Musee d’Art Classique de Mougins(www.mouginsmusee.com) is hosting the temporary exhibition “Picasso in Mougins”(through 12 May),displaying works that the artist created in Mougins during the last dozen years of his lifetime.And at the town’s Musee de la Photographie Andre Villers (www.mougins.fr),evocative photos chronicle Picasso’s family life,playful charades and artsy inventions at La Villa Californie,his home in Cannes from 1955 through 1961
Down the coast ,Monaco’s Grimaldi Forum (www.grimaldiforum.com) is holding 2013’s most anticipated event,”Manaco Celebrates Picasso”(12 July-15 September).This colossal exhibition is curated by Jean-Louis Andral,Director of the Picasso Museum in Antibes,as well Marilyn McCully and Michael Raeburn,Picasso biographers and specialists on the artist.
Pablo Picasso, 1959 Linoleum cut in colours, Signed in pencil and inscribed by the artist ‘pour mon ami Bernard Geiser’ in black crayon.
“Picasso is still regarded as the greatest master of the 20th century, and the body of works he left, which numbers in the ten of thousands, remains both admired and provocative.”
Femme à l’oiseau (Dora Maar), (17 juin 1939) Huile sur toile, Collection Ezra et David Nahmad
The first section of “Monaco Celebrates Picasso”showcases 110 masterpieces from the exceptional collection privately accrued by patrons Ezra and David Nahmad.McCully and Raeburn describe the second part of the exhibition:”It gives an intimate view of the works Picasso produced during his holidays on the Cote d’Azur during the 1920s and 1930s,showing his response to the place,to the light and to the artistic tradition of the Mediterranean.”
There’s little doubt the show will draw Picasso fans in droves. McCully and raeburn sums up the artist’s legendary appeal:”Picasso is still regarded as the greatest master of the 20th century,and the body of works he left,which numbers in ten of thousands,remains both admired and provocative.
And if you liked this story, subscribe to our bi-monthly World Travel Magazine, a handpicked selection of editorial features and stories from Global Destinations, Inspire Me, Insider, Style File, Wellness & Travel, City Travel, Suite Life, At Leisure, Short Breaks and much more.