If it’s Friday, it must be France …
In the summer of 1946, Pablo Picasso was in a good mood. The war was over and he was in the south of France with his new lover Françoise Gilot, who was 40 years younger.
Staying in Golfe-Juan, close to Antibes, through a chance meeting on the beach he was offered space for a studio in the Musée Grimaldi. A Roman fort that was rebuilt in the 14thC, it was being used at the time as a provincial antiquities museum.
Although he only used the chateau for a couple of months he was prodigious, leaving 22 paintings and 43 drawings to be kept on display in the space. As explained by Tony Myers in an article in the British newspaper The Guardian, “When he moved in, Picasso told the curator that he would decorate the walls of the castle as a thank you. But they were in a rough state of repair, and in the end Picasso was unable to fulfil his promise, with the exception of one graphite drawing, Les Clés d’Antibes. (The drawing can still be seen in the hall of the Grimaldi.) Instead, he donated the work he’d done there to the museum, stipulating that they should remain there permanently. “Anyone who wants to see them will have to come to Antibes,” he declared.”
When Picasso first arrived in Antibes there was a shortage of art materials – of everything, really, after the terrible years of WW2 – so he worked with what was available locally. Instead of canvas, he created backings of asbestos-cement and he used boat paint obtained from the fisherman at the port. Household paintbrushes and other crude implements replaced his usual painting and drawing supplies. Undaunted he painted with abandon, inspired by the beauty of his surroundings.
Wherever you go along the French Riviera, copies of paintings are often mounted on the spot where the artist sketched or painted the original. It’s an exciting feeling to know you are standing there!
I walked past this one practically every day on my morning walk. Loved it! He painted this colorful scene just before the outbreak of the war in 1939 and some have interpreted strong anti-war symbols while others see an exuberant depiction of the simple life of fishermen in Antibes. Take a look at the closeup below. What’s your take on it?
“The scene was one well familiar to Picasso, and he translated it with exuberance and vivid color into his own personal and stylized painting. He shows the spear fishermen of Antibes, in the south of France, working close to the shore, luring the fish to the surface with a lamp. Their activities have stopped some interested bystanders on the quay, two girls who pause in the languid evening to watch the outcome. One (at the right) holds a bicycle and licks at a double-dip ice cream cone. In the background on the left is the blocky form of the old castle of Grimaldi which, since the time of the painting, has become a Picasso museum.” (SI, 11/01/1960)
Are you a fan of Picasso’s art or do you look at it and wonder “What the … ?”. One thing we know for certain, the number of ways people express themselves creatively is impossible to count. Picasso is quoted as saying, “Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.” Would you agree with that?
Tameri Etherton says
I would absolutely agree that painting is a way of keeping a diary. All art is a diary of sorts.
I love Picasso even if I don’t understand him. Anti war sentiments? I don’t see it, but then I’m art illiterate. I can go to a museum and I’ll be in the section with swords and costumes for hours, while breezing through the paintings. Your picture above of the street intrigues me more than the Picasso painting. Still, I can appreciate the skill and imagination he employed and that’s where I really get excited. The thought behind the art.
You don’t sound art illiterate to me. The beauty of art is the freedom of expression available to every artist and the opportunity everyone has to respond as they wish. Oscar Wilde said “A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament.” And we get to take from it what we will … or won’t. The possibilities are endless.
Tameri Etherton says
You’re such a sweetheart! I just mean I don’t know very many artists and their works of art. Although, I could probably tell you about some renaissance painters and why the hands are a certain way, or what the single person looking a the audience means, but that’s only because I was a renaissance literature person and had to take a renaissance art class. ; )
Marion Spicher says
Ah, my ignorance is showing, as I have never had the interest or patience to contemplate artistic renditions. A painting that is realistic, or at least immediately understandable as impressionistic gives me pleasure and an appreciation for the intricate skill of the artist. Picasso and other renowned artists do not interest me, although their skill in renditions of color and emotion is great and admired. I can see walking the streets where he lived and worked and viewing his original work would be thrilling for you. Thanks for sharing this post. The topic will mean a great deal to many.
I’ll take the impressionists over Picasso every day too, Marion. I’m always intrigued by Picasso’s interpretations but they rarely speak to me! I’m way more interested in his story!
Kate MacNicol says
I wasn’t a true fan of Picasso until I went to an art exhibit at the Naples Art Museum. It was strange because it seemed the more I saw, the more I enjoyed. I so enjoyed your picture on the Riveria and I’d love, love, love to see it up close and personal as you have. You are so blessed to be able to spend so much time in such a fabulous place. Thanks for sharing it. I really, truly appreciate it. And thanks for the info about the Grimaldi too. Fun information for an armchair art historian like myself. Lovely post Patricia!
I know you would love immersing yourself in all that history, Kate!
Elena Aitken says
Patricia, I just love your photos of France.
I do think art is another way of keeping a diary (for the artistically inclined) I myself can barely draw a stick person, but I do appreciate the emotion and heart put into every piece by an artist.
I do it with words, they do it with art.
I know what you mean about stick people! That’s why we need to keep writing.
I have to say – I LOVE your posts Patricia. Your blog voice and photos are spectacular and gives me such a feeling of being there, of the beauty and wonderment. I typically have no interest in cultural things like art and museums but when I read your posts, I find myself enthralled and wanted to know more and wanting to visit these places and see these works of arts for myself. Incredible. Thank you for sharing!
And I agree….painting is another way of capturing one’s diary!
Yup – some paint, some write, and some make macaroni sculptures (or knit Mundies … hehe), but somehow we all find a way to express ourselves. I’m glad you’re enjoying the ride, Natalie.