Tag Archives: Arts
A la Franςaise – A Creative Video
Anyone who’s in the know, knows that I love anything and everything to do with Louis XIV & Versailles and am looking forward to being there again soon for a special event (stay tuned for blog post in June)!
The video (link below) was created by a group of graduate students and is done incredibly well as a tongue in cheek short animated film about life at court in 1700 – creative and amusing entertainment!
See video HERE
What do you think of it?
Le Bal des Courtisans
Six reasons why France is top tourist destination
The Local looks at just how did France manage to attract over 84 million tourists last year – far more than any other country – and hear’s from one tourism industry chief in the country who believes the figures do not tell the full story.
But what makes France such an attractive destination for holiday makers year after year? The Local looks at six reasons to explain the country’s tourism appeal.
But do the figures tell the real story of France’s table topping tourism industry? One professional says the ynumbers are misleading and France needs to do to match the success of the United States and Spain.
1. The City of Light (incorrect with “s”)
It almost goes without saying, but the French capital is a huge draw for foreign visitors – over 30 million of them a year in fact, more than any other city in the world. What makes it so popular? Where to start. There’s the city’s romantic image, the stunning architecture, the Louvre museum, the iconic Eiffel Tower as well as the simple pleasure of sitting at a café terrace and watching the world go by. European and US visitors have flocked here from all the world for many years, and they keep coming back and in recent years the appeal of Paris has gripped the far east, with mor and more Chinese nationals coming to get a glimpse of the Champs Elysées and its array of boutiques.
And don’t forget Disneyland, which is a destination in itself for foreign visitors. With around 15 million visitors each year, the theme park, just to the east of the French capital is Europe’s top tourist destinaton.
2. A variety of sun, sea and mountains
Many French people shun international destinations for their summer holidays and instead choose to travel within their own country. Why? Well, as they’ll be keen to tell you, it’s because France has everything, from sandy beaches, to snow covered mountains and vast expanses of countryside.
Simon Dawson, from UK tour operator French Cycling Holidays, agrees. “Different regions have completely different appearances,” he says. “There’s the rolling countryside, great cities like Paris, Lyon, Marseille.”
Basically France offers something for everyone. While the Germans may come for the beaches, the Brits for the countryside the Americans come for the chateaux and the culture.
“The weather is a big factor too. “France tends to have really good weather in the summer, it’s hot, but not baking hot like in Spain or Italy for example,” says Dawson.
3. Strategic location
Part of France’s appeal, however, could just be a sheer coincidence of geography. For example, for UK holidaymakers looking to escape their homelands unreliable summers, France is just a short hop across the Channel, a journey some 12.6 million made in 2013. Travellers from another of France’s neighbours, Germany, made up 13 million visitors to France last year, more than any other country. However, not all these visitors are coming to see France itself.
“Because of France’s position many tourists are forced to pass through the country on their way to other destinations,” explains Didier Arino, president of tourism industry specialists Protourisme. “Between 15 and 20 million of the visitors who come to France are just passing through on their way to Italy or Spain.”
4. Escape to the countryside
Around 80 percent of France is countryside – and most of it stunning and tranquil. Besides Paris, this is the part of France most tourists want to see, says Dawson. “The most popular areas for our customers are the Loire Valley, Provence, the famous beautiful regions of France,” he says.
The countryside is particularly popular with those from the UK, who have a romantacised vision of rural life in France, according to Protourisme’s Arino.
“The British are in love with rural France. They idealise the countryside,” he says. The Brits enjoythe contrast of the peaceful “France profonde” compared to the hussle and bussle of the towns and cities many of them live in.
5. Food and wine
France is, of course, inseparable from its famed gastronomical traditions and the chance to dine on French specialities, even the clichéd snails or steak tartare is no doubt a major part of what attracts visitors to the country. France knows this and is keen to protect its status as the world’s food capital, as evidenced by its recent “homemade” food label scheme designed to discourage chefs from using frozen or ready-prepared ingredients.
No proper French meal is complete without a few glasses of ‘vin’ and the country’s vast array of home-produced wines is another draw for tourists. Each year, around 24 million foreign tourists visit Bordeaux, Burgundy and France’s other wine regions.
6. Art , history and culture
France is extremely proud of its long and often tumultuous history, from the French revolution to Napoleon and the two world wars, and historical sites are often on the itinerary for visitors. There’s the famous battle sites of the Somme and the D-Day landings, as well as the stunning chateaux, churches and cathedrals that decorate the landscape.
In fact, France has some 39 sites on Unesco’s World Heritage list, putting it fourth in the global rankings. Museums and art galleries are also a major pull for tourists. The Louvre alone, home to the Mona Lisa among around 35,000 other artifacts and artworks, attracts 9.7 million visitors a year, more than any other museum in the world.
The Lonely Planet’s destination editor Kate Morgan sums it all up like this: “As a destination for travellers, France virtually has it all. France entices people of all ages with some of the world’s most iconic landmarks, world-class art and architecture, sensational food, stunning beaches, glitzy ski resorts, beautiful countryside and a staggering amount of history.”
But do the stats tell the real picture?
Despite being the world’s most visited country, France is hoping to boost its tourism numbers still further. Earlier this year, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius unveiled a plan to increase foreign visitor numbers to more than 100 million a year.
Protourisme’s Arino, however is not getting carried away with the figures. For him France needs to focus on persuading the tourists to spend more. While France has the highest number of visitors a year, it is only third in the world when it comes to revenue generated from tourism, he says
“These figures don’t give the whole picture,” he says. “For me France is the third tourist destination in the world, behind the United States and Spain, where the tourism industry in both countries generates more money than in France.
“The only figure that matters is the commercial revenue, not the amount of visitors.
Arino points to the situation of tourists sleeping in their cars as they pass through France on the way to Spain, who are no use to the country economically.
For France to squeeze more money out of visitors Arino says it needs to improve the variety and prices of the accommodation it offers, encourage people to stay longer by giving them a warmer welcome, and make France more competitive in terms of value for money.
Foreign Minister Fabius would agree and has come up with a list of tasks to help improve the welcome for visitors to France.
Source/credit/photos: Written by Sam Ball published in The Local
Sun, Sea, & Green
“In an open-topped tour bus, a collector’s car, by Segway, by tram, on foot by boat or by bicycle, there are so many ways to discover Nice and its attractions! Are you having trouble choosing between a classical tour or a chance to get off the beaten tracks, an instructive treasure hunt to discover the history of Nice, a photographic trail accompanied by a professional photographer, a guided tour through some of the city’s most attractive districts with the Heritage Centre, a culinary tour featuring the theme of Niçois cuisine or a custom tour designed especially for you, supervised by a guide?
Just imagine… 7 km of beaches bordering the famous Promenade des Anglais! 15 private beaches and 20 public ones in the very heart of the town! Beach restaurants where you can enjoy fish-based dishes, salads or other summertime cuisine with the sound of the waves in the background. Disabled access beaches, children’s games, organised features and entertainment and nautical activities, crystal clear water at just the right temperature …and an amazing view out to sea! A number of private beaches organize music evenings where you can dance through the night under the stars, with your feet in the water!
As the “green city” of the Mediterranean, Nice is home to more than 100 gardens and some 20 parks with a surface area exceeding 10,000 m2 including the 7-hectare Parc Phoenix, a holder of the “Jardin remarquable” (Remarkable Garden) label. Genuine oases of greenery in the heart of the city, these parks and gardens have been designed to bring man into contact with nature, which can be discovered and admired at any time of year. Already ahead of target in terms of the national ECOPHYTO 2018 Plan, Nice is continuing its efforts to promote sustainable development and has opted for “zero pesticides” to protect biodiversity and the health of its citizens and visitors. Waterfalls, water fun areas and varied tree and shrub varieties await… Enjoy a lungful of fresh air… You’re in Nice!”
See major SUMMER EVENTS HERE
Source: Nice Convention and Visitors Bureau
Baccarat Celebrates its 250th Anniversary in Glitter and Glass
By Diane Stamm
To celebrate its 250th anniversary this year, Baccarat, renowned purveyor of crystal to royalty, celebrities, and yes, even just plain folk like us, has mounted a sumptuous exhibition at its headquarters, Maison Baccarat, at 11, place des États-Unis in the Paris 16th. Baccarat. Les 250 ans,which runs through January 24, 2015, presents a retrospective of nearly 250 of the company’s most famous, award-winning, and iconic creations.
The Baccarat brand had auspicious beginnings. At the end of the Hundred Years War, French King Louis XV granted the Bishop of Metz a Royal Warrant to establish a glass-making factory in the village of Baccarat in Lorraine on the banks of the Meurthe River. The factory was to serve as an economic stimulus and to provide employment. The kilns fired up in 1764, and in 1816 the factory began producing crystal.
The company’s prestige and international reputation began with an order for a set of glasses placed by King Louis XVIII following his visit to the factory in 1823. It was Louis XVIII who launched the fashion of the complete glass service in the Russian style, with each glass a distinct size – one each for water, white wine, red wine, and champagne.
The glasses were so admired by fellow crowned heads who dined at his table that they, too, began to order from Baccarat.
The company’s reputation steadily grew, in part thanks to its expert craftsmen, and after Baccarat won all the gold medals for its entries to the Universal Exhibitions at the turn of the 20th century, orders began to flow in from around the world. Today, Baccarat employs twenty-five craftsmen who have won the prestigious Meilleur Ouvrier de France – Best Craftsmen in France – more than any other company in the country.
Baccarat. Les 250 ans presents decorative art at its highest quality. And its most dramatic.
The first section, Foli des Grandeurs, showcases monumental pieces such as the Tsar Nicholas II candelabra, and the Ferrières chair, stool, and pedestal table commissioned by 19th century Maharajas and delivered by elephant to them. The section called Alchemierepresents Water, Earth, Air, and Fire, the four elements essential to the creation of crystal.Au-dela de la Transparence (Beyond Transparency) explores the themes of lightness, refinement, and femininity. The Prestigious Commissions section displays some of the most important commissions from heads of state, such as Emperor Hirohito; royal and imperial courts, such as the Prince of Wales; and celebrities, such as Josephine Baker.
So in demand were Baccarat pieces by certain sovereigns that, for example, Tsar Nicholas II commissioned caravans of crystal pieces carried by mules bound for Russia. Through the 19th century, the Baccarat factory operated a special furnace at full capacity dedicated to the production of crystal for the Russian court.
Baccarat’s best-known pattern is Harcourt, created in 1841 when French King Louis-Philippe commissioned a ceremonial chalice engraved with the royal monogram. With its hexagonal foot and flat facet-cut bowl, its design is now nearly ubiquitous, especially in French cafes and brasseries, but it originated with Baccarat.
In addition to being the headquarters of Baccarat and housing a museum, Maison Baccarat also houses a boutique; an elegant restaurant named the Cristal Room; and a ballroom that comes from a Neapolitan palace decorated with paintings by Francesco Solimera, a disciple of Tiepolo. During the first half of the 20th century the mansion was home to wealthy art patrons Viscountess Marie-Laure de Noailles and her husband, Charles de Noailles, and was the venue for salons that included diplomats, royalty, actors, and artists.
When Baccarat relocated its headquarters to the mansion in 2002, it hired designer Philippe Starck to redecorate the place. His style is pervasive throughout, beginning with the dramatically lighted foyer dominated by mirrors framed in Baccarat’s signature ruby-red crystal, a color produced by heating 24-karat gold powder.
The boutique sells the full range of Baccarat pieces, many of which are displayed on a very long table set for a grand dinner. Also for sale are all sorts of crystal arts de vivre– lamps, panthers, chess sets, decanters, chandeliers, jewelry, and much more. Of particular note is a large, fan-shaped vase with four exquisitely executed galloping horses etched in gold, the dust swirling under their feet.
You might conclude your visit to Maison Baccarat with a meal at the elegant Cristal Room, overseen by Michelin three-star chef Guy Martin. You will dine off Baccarat crystal and experience a little of the cachet for yourself. And before you leave, be sure to poke your head into the second floor bathroom for a look at one of the most atmospheric rooms – bathroom or otherwise – you’ll ever see.
11, place des États-Unis, Paris 16th
01 40 22 11 00; 011 33 1 40 22 11 00
Metro: Boissière – Line 6; Iéna – Line 9
Museum hours: Mon and Wed–Sat 10am–6:30p; closed Tues, Sun, and holidays
Entrance fee: 7 euros; reduced fee 5 euros; free for those under 18, for students under 25, the unemployed, and the handicapped
The Cristal Room
Tel: 01 40 22 11 10
Hours: Mon–Sat 12:30pm–2:30pm; 7:30pm–10:30pm; closed Sun
Credits: Article & Photos by Diane Stamm
Reblogged from: BonjourParis
French Jazz Fans outsmart Hitler
Article written by Margo Lestz (The Curious Rambler)- Reblogged with permission:
France has a special place in its heart for jazz and in the summer, you’ll find jazz festivals all over the country. In fact, the world’s first international jazz festival was held in Nice, France in 1948. But France’s relationship with this music started some 30 years earlier during the World War I and developed under some interesting circumstances during the Nazi Occupation of World War II.
Jazz comes to France
During World War I, African-American soldiers introduced France to jazz. After the war, this lively new sound was the perfect accompaniment to les années folles, or “the crazy years”, when all art forms were changing and tastes turned to the unconventional and exotic. This new African-American music made people feel alive again, just what was needed after the horrors of the First World War.
Jazz was especially appreciated by the young and in the early 1930s, a group of Parisian students formed a jazz club. At first they just met to listen to the music, but later they became ambassadors of this new sound. The Hot Club de France quickly grew into an important organisation working to promote jazz in France. Hugues Panassié was president and Charles Delaunay secretary, but in 1936 Louis Armstrong was elected Honorary President of the club and held that title until his death in 1971.
With the help of the Hot Club, jazz took root in post-war France. Although they appreciated the American jazz groups, the Hot Club was on the lookout for French talent. They “discovered” guitarist Django Reinhardt and violinist Stéphane Grappelli who, along with others, became known as the Hot Club Quintet, the first “all French” jazz band.
Jazz during the occupation
When the Second World War was declared, most of the African American jazz musicians left France and the French bands were worried. Hitler wasn’t a jazz fan. He considered it a tool of the Jews and detrimental to society.
But, Hitler was more tolerant in France than in other countries. He wanted to remain on good terms with the French and use their resources for his war effort. He also planned to make Paris a recreation centre for his troops so he encouraged the entertainment industry there. Foreign tunes were absolutely forbidden but he allowed traditional music, thinking his propaganda would be better accepted if it was broadcast along with popular songs.
The Hot Club took advantage of this situation and set about creating a “French history” for jazz, proclaiming it a traditional French form of music. They held conferences explaining how jazz was directly inspired by Debussy, an influential French composer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and circulated flyers detailing this invented pedigree.
They wrote books to convince Hitler and the Vichy regime of the merits of French jazz. One music critic published a book explaining how it was intrinsically French and how it could become the new European music under the Nazi regime. Hugues Panassié, president of the Hot Club, published a book addressing the Vichy regime’s argument that jazz couldn’t carry a patriotic message. In his book he claimed that jazz had simply been misunderstood and he scattered biblical passages and political quotes throughout to make it sound convincing.
Louis Armstrong disguised as a French man (photo: The Curious Rambler)
It’s not swing, it’s jazz
Music experts pointed out that the jazz musicians of the time were all French (the American musicians had left at the start of the war) and they made “adjustments” to make jazz seem more French. At the time the music was called “swing” in France so they started calling it “jazz” which sounded less American.
It’s not blues, it’s tristesse
The titles of songs were changed to French: “St. Louis Blues” became “Tristesse de St. Louis” and “I Got Rhythm” became “Agate Rhythm”. The names of composers were either left off or changed. Louis Armstrong’s songs were credited to Jean Sablon during that time. When they had finished, jazz looked as French as baguettes and brie. Their efforts paid off when the Nazis banned subversive “American swing” but permitted traditional “French jazz”. Of course, it was the same music, just cleverly repackaged.
Jazz and the Resistance
Hot Club members weren’t just defying the Nazis with music, many of them were active members of the Resistance. They used jazz concerts and conferences as cover to pass information to England. In 1943 the Hot Club headquarters in Paris was raided and some of its officials were arrested. Delaunay, Hot Club secretary, was released after one month, but several of the others perished in Nazi concentration camps.
However, jazz survived and kept the French company during the occupation. And when the war was over, France remained faithful to the music that, by that time, really had become woven into French culture.
Click on the video below to see Louis Armstrong learning a song in French with Claudine Panassié, daughter-in-law of Hugues Panassié, president of the Hot Club and director of the 1948 Nice Jazz Festival. It was filmed in 1969 at Armstrong’s home in Corona, New York.
History of the Nice Jazz Festival:
1948 – Nice hosted the first international jazz festival in the world. Louis Armstrong was the headliner and performances were in the opera house and the municipal casino (which once stood in Place Massena).
1972-1973 – The next jazz festival in Nice took place 23 years later. The performances were held in the garden Albert I.
1974 – The Nice jazz festival returned under the name, Grande Parade du Jazz. Musicians played on three stages in the open spaces of the garden of Cimiez. The Nice jazz festival has continued since 1974.
1994 – The name was changed to Nice Jazz Festival.
2011 – The festival moved back into the centre of town and to the garden Albert I where two stages welcome multiple performers each evening.
French Riviera Fireworks
Wed 9: Cannes *
Fri 11: Le Lavandou
Sat 12: Cagnes-sur-Mer (Hippodrome) & Roquebrune Cap Martin
Sun 13: Agay, Antibes, Bormes-les-Mimosas, Cagnes-sur-Mer, Golfe Juan, La Figueirette
Mon 14: Beaulieu-sur-Mer, Cannes, Cavalaire, Juan-les-Pins, Le Lavandou, Menton, Nice, Port Grimaud, St. Laurent du Var, Ste. Maxime, St. Raphael, St. Tropez, Théoule
Tues 15: La Napoule (Château)
Sat. 19: Cagnes-sur-Mer (Hippodrome), Monaco
Mon 21: Cannes *
Fri 25: Cagnes-sur-Mer (Hippodrome), Le Lavandou
Sun 27: Monaco
Tues 29: Cannes *
Wed 30: La Napoule
Fri 1: Juan-les-Pins, Le Lavandou
Sun 3: St. Raphael
Thurs 7: Cannes *
Fri 8: Juan-les-Pins, Le Lavandou
Sat 9: Monaco, St. Jean Cap Ferrat
Tues 12: La Napoule
Thurs 14: Agay, Cagnes-sur-Mer, Roquebrune Cap Martin, San Remo
Fri 15: Cagnes-sur-Mer (Hippodrome), Cannes, Juan-les-Pins, Le Lavandou, Menton, Nice, Port Grimaud, Ste. Maxime, St. Raphael, St. Tropez, Théoule
Sat 16: Monaco
Sun 17: Bormes les Mimosas
Fri 22: Cagnes-sur-Mer (Hippodrome), Le Lavandou
Sat 23: Cagnes-sur-Mer (Hippodrome), la Napoule
Sun 24: Antibes, Cannes *
Fri 29: Le lavandou
* Check out the annual International Firework Festival in Cannes
(Festival d’art pyrotéchnique de Cannes)
(Schedule not all inclusive – check local Tourist Office sites for more information)
Source: Riviera Reporter
Jean Cocteau Museum in Menton
The artist and writer, Jean Cocteau first visited Menton in 1955 and called the city the “Pearl of France,” while maintaining a long-lasting relationship with the city from the late 1950’s.
He became involved in the restoration and decoration of the Bastion, a small fort built in the 17th century, in order to convert it into an exhibition place for his work: watercolors, ceramics, tapestries, sketches, and mosaics, and more.
On the request of Francis Palmero, the Mayor at that time, Cocteau first painted the Salle des Mariages, inaugurated on 22 March 1958 and also decorated the Mayor’s office with a wall painting representing Orpheus in front of the Old City of Menton.
He is also responsible for decorating the “Chapelle St. Pierre” in Villefranche, a fishing town just outside of Nice and also lived in St. Jean Cap Ferrat – all portraying his long love affair with the French Riviera.
Quai de Monlion – Vieux Port of Menton Open all year round from 10.00am to 12.00pm and from 2.00pm to 6.00pm. Closed on Tuesday and holidays. Cocteau Chapel 1, Quai Courbet in Villefranche Closed on Tuesday and during lunchtime.
Ready, Set, Van Gogh!
Reblogged from The Provence Post:
Three years in the works, the Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles will open to the public on Monday April 7th with an inaugural exhibit called Van Gogh Live!
The Fondation will underscore and celebrate the inseparable link between the paintings of the Dutch artist and the city of Arles, by showing his work alongside the work of contemporary artists. The museum says its goal is to “showcase and promote van Gogh’s artistic heritage while also asking questions about the resonance of his oeuvre in art today.”
The museum is located at the Hôtel Léautaud de Donines, a 15th-century building elegantly restored by Guilaume Avenard and Hervé Scheider of the architectural firm Fluor, who say that the light of Arles was their “guiding thread.” It’s located in the heart of Arles’ historic center, a setting classified as UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The Fondation comprises more than 1000 square meters of exhibit space spread over two floors.
For the city of Arles this is huge and everyone is all abuzz. It does seem like the perfect way to honor the beleaguered artist, who, it is said, never sold a painting in his lifetime and yet, “elevated this town and its surrounding countryside to icons.”
The first show, which runs until August 31st, juxtaposes two separate exhibits. Colours of the North, Colours of the South was curated by Sjraar van Heugten, former director of collections at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. It retraces the evolution of van Gogh’s palette from darkness towards “southern brightness” and presents a dozen van Gogh pieces alongside those of his contemporaries who influenced on him: Courbet, Pissarro, Monet, Monticelli and others.
The second part of Van Gogh Live! is an exhibit of nine contemporary artists paying homage to van Gogh. The artists and the works were selected by the museum’s artistic director Bice Curiger.
Also to be unveiled on April 7th are permanent installations specially commissioned for the museum’s entrance.
*** After living for two years in Paris, van Gogh arrived in Arles on February 20, 1888. During the 14-plus months he spent there, he created a multitude of paintings and drawings, many of which are now considered masterpieces of late 19th-century art.
Tired of the busy city life and the cold northern climate, van Gogh had headed south in search of the warmth, bright light and colors of Provence. According to his brother Theo, he went “first to Arles to get his bearings and then probably on to Marseille.” Van Gogh found in the beautiful countryside of Arles what he had been looking for and never moved on to Marseille.
Around Arles he found the light, color and harmony that he knew and loved from Japanese prints…and he started to paint Japanese-inspired blossoming trees and the Pont de Langlois. In summer he drew and painted harvest scenes.
Painting the human figure had always been one of van Gogh’s most important artistic goals and he had a special love for peasant paintings. In Arles, he decided that he wanted to modernize this genre by choosing the subject of the sower. He painted portraits and still-lifes as well, confessing to Theo : “I am painting with the gusto of a Marseillais eating a bouillabaisse.”
In May, van Gogh rented the famous Yellow House (Maison Jaune), where he lived and worked. He had hopes of establishing a collective studio in the South, were other painters would join him and in October, 1888, Paul Gauguin came to Arles. The two artists lived and painted together for two months. It was a time of great mutual inspiration but eventually artistic temperaments clashed. On December 23, 1888, van Gogh suffered a breakdown and he cut off part of his left ear. (Actually a recent theory by two German art historians has it that it was actually Gauguin who cut off the famous ear.) Gauguin left and van Gogh’s dream of a studio with other painters was shattered. He was hospitalized twice in Arles, in the 16th and 17th-century Hôtel-Dieu; he painted and drew its beautiful courtyard, which you can just wander easily into today. (It’s now called the Espace Van Gogh.) Finally he had himself voluntarily committed to the Clinique St. Paul in St. Rémy on May 8, 1889.
During his time in St. Remy, Van Gogh painted another roughly 150 canvasses. But, writes van Gogh expert Sjraar Van Heugten, “his style grew less contrasted. His oeuvre would never again reflect the bedazzlement he had experienced in Arles, faced with light and the colours of the South.”
In St. Remy, the Clinique St. Paul is a lovely and very-popular tourist site. The sections where patients are treated remains closed to the public but you can visit van Gogh’s rooms, read his letters, buy art made by the current patients, enjoy the flowers in a beautiful cloister and see the van Gogh paintings reproduced on panels on the grounds, as part of a larger van Gogh trail.
In May 1890, van Gogh left St. Remy to be closer to his physician Dr. Paul Gachet in Auvers-sur-Oise and also closer to Theo. He died in July of that same year, 1890, at age 37. He is believed to have shot himself with a revolver although no gun was ever found.
Writing in his 1984 book Van Gogh in Arles, Ronald Pickvance said: “Vincent Willem van Gogh…lived in Arles…almost 15 months, over 63 weeks, precisely 444 days. During his stay, he produced some 200 paintings, made over 100 drawings and watercolours, and wrote some 200 letters. The vast majority survive – a prodigal and quite astonishing outpouring, sustaining a pace that no other artist of the 19th century could match. This period in Arles is frequently called the zenith, the climax, the greatest flowering of Van Gogh’s decade of artistic activity.”
*** The connection between the famous Dutch artist and contemporary art was inscribed in the principles of the Fondation Vincent van Goghright from its conception, when, in 1983, Yolande Clergue (wife of photographer Lucien Clergue) , founded the “Association pour la Création de la Fondation Vincent van Gogh en Arles” and set out to create a collection of contemporary art in Arles which would “pay homage to Van Gogh’s universality.”
In 1988, the collection was presented publicly for the first time, during celebrations for the centenary of the arrival of van Gogh in Arles. Its development then intensified quickly, both in the quality of its exhibitions (Picasso, Bacon) and in its publications. Today the collection contains major pieces from the worlds of literature, poetry, music, photography, theatrical costuming (Christian Lacroix) and much more.
In 2008, the mayor of Arles offered to lodge the collection in a museum at the Hôtel Léautaud de Donines; the organization finally received state approval in 2010. Work started in 2011 and Bice Curiger, a world-renowned art critic and exhibition curator, was brought aboard as artistic director the following year.
Finally, next week it’s all opening, ”under the high patronage” of President Francois Hollande.
Highly instrumental in bringing the museum to life was board president Luc Hoffmann, the grandson of the founder of the Swiss pharmaceutical company Hoffmann-La Roche who bought a large estate in the Camargue near Arles in 1947. A world-renowned environmentalist and philanthropist, Luc’s lifetime’s worth of achievements includes co-founding the World Wildlife Fund, establishing the Parc Naturel Régional de Camargue (which he ran for many years) and authoring some 60 books.
Luc’s daughter Maja Hoffmann–Fondation board member and president of the artistic committee– grew up between Switzerland and the Camargue. She has devoted her life to continuing the family’s philanthropic and environmental legacy but is known above all for her passion for contemporary art. She’s currently president of the International Council of the Tate (London)–and one of the Tate’s trustees–and sits on the boards of scores of other top art museums worldwide. She’s also a developer and co-owner of a number of popular Arles area hotels and restaurants.
The new museum is at #35, rue du Docteur Fanton in Arles. For all the info, click here or go to: fondation-vincentvangogh-arles.org.
If you’d like to see the Fondation press kit in English, click here.
For info on the self-guided Van Gogh walking tour in Arles, click here.
If you’d like a guided walking tour in Arles, with or without a visit to the Fondation, contact me.
For general Arles info, the Tourist Office site is here.
Finally, if you want to read a fascinating article, Van Gogh’s Ear: The Christmas Eve That Changed Modern Art, by Adam Gopnik from the New Yorker, click here.
Photos: (1) This is an architect’s rendering as the facade is still getting its finishing touches in advance of the opening this week. (2) Museum interiors. (3) The logo and other elements of the museum’s visual identity (signage, website, etc.) were designed by Studio Marie Lusa in Zurich. (4, 5) Van Gogh’s Autoportrait avec Pipe et Chapeau de Paille, 1887 and Guillaume Bruere’s Untitled are both in the opening exhibit. (6, 7) Van Gogh’s La Maison Jaune (‘La rue’), 1888, and his April, 1889 painting of the courtyard at the 17th century Hôtel-Dieu (Espace Van Gogh), where he was hospitalized twice – See more at: http://theprovencepost.blogspot.fr/2014/03/ready-set-van-gogh_31.html#sthash.MP7Pf3fO.dpuf