Friday, December 21, 2012

Walking In The Steps of Cézanne

The work of Post-Impressionist French painter Paul Cézanne can be said to form the bridge between late 19th century Impressionism and the early 20th century's new line of artistic inquiry, Cubism. The mastery of design, tone, composition and color that spans his life's work is highly characteristic and now recognizable around the world. Both Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso were highly influenced by Cézanne.

The Father of Modern Painting

"I began the path to learn more about Paul Cézanne on the streets of Aix-en Provence.
 Following the bronze medallions embedded on the sidewalks, marking the steps of Cézanne's
 life in this old city that he was  so passionately attached too."
He summed up  his love in one single sentence

 When you're born there, nothing else is good enough >>

He was born in Rue de l'Opéra in 1839 and died in Rue Boulegon in 1906.
The particular light of Provence guided him on his creative path to the threshold of abstraction.

In 1872 Paul Cézanne moved to Pontoise, where he spent 2 years working very closely with Pissarro. During this period Cézanne became convinced that one must paint directly from nature, with the result that romantic and religious subjects began to disappear from his canvases. In addition, the somber, murky range of his palette began to give way to fresher, more vibrant colors.
As a direct result of his stay in Pontoise, Cézanne decided to participate in the first exhibition of the Société Anonyme des Artistes Peintres, Sculpteurs et Graveurs in 1874. This historic exhibition, which was organized by radical artists who had been persistently rejected by the official Salons, inspired the term "impressionism"--originally a derogatory expression coined by a newspaper critic. 

"Visiting his private studio was  an inspiring experience.
located up above the city on the Lauves Hill. I walked in the
woods behind his studio, understanding completely his need for quiet solitude. 
 This place allowed him to paint in the style he became known for but not
highly respected for during his lifetime."

From 1904 until his death in 1906 Cézanne worked every morning in this studio of light and silence.
The birth place of dozens of paintings that are now owned by the worlds greatest  museums.

His studio was preserved until 1997 by a foundation created by 2 American collectors

"I was surprised to find that Aix owns only 4 small original paintings,
as his work was not collected locally.
However, Paris and New York Museums have large collection."

"Here among the objects he treasured and used for his paintings, his furniture and painting smocks  covered with oil paint, his brushes and painting tools, I felt time stop!
and I did feel Cézannes  energy intensely in the room"

"Notice the small table  in the center, set with fruit and bowls,

Now look at the painting below"

 He painted directly from the subject and employed the short, loaded brushstrokes which are characteristic of the style as it was forged by Monet, Renoir, and Pissarro.

Paul Cézanne's insistence on the integrity and uniqueness of painting as a medium has additionally meant that the demands of visible reality must ultimately give way when they meet the demands of the pictorial surface. This was a crucial step in the development of abstract art in the 20th century.


After 1877 Cézanne gradually withdrew from his impressionist colleagues and worked in increasing isolation at his home in southern France. This withdrawal was linked with two factors: first, the more personal direction his work began to take, a direction not basically aligned with that of the other impressionists; second, the disappointing responses which his art continued to generate among the public at large. In fact, Cézanne did not exhibit publicly for almost 20 years after the third impressionist show

Thursday, December 20, 2012



Arles is a good example of the adaptation of an ancient city to medieval European civilization. It has some impressive Roman monuments, of which the earliest – the arena, the Roman theatre and the cryptoporticus (subterranean galleries) – date back to the 1st century B.C. During the 4th century Arles experienced a second golden age, as attested by the baths of Constantine and the necropolis of Alyscamps. In the 11th and 12th centuries, Arles once again became one of the most attractive cities in the Mediterranean. Within the city walls, Saint-Trophime, with its cloister, is one of Provence's major Romanesque monuments.

Public Park,Arles by Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Willem van Gogh moved to ARLES hoping for refuge at a time when he was ill from drink and suffering from smoker's cough.He arrived on 21 February 1888, and took a room at the Hôtel-Restaurant Carrel.Van Gogh was enchanted by the local landscape and light, and his works from the period are richly draped in yellow,ultramarine and mauve. His portrayals of the Arles landscape are informed by his Dutch upbringing; the patchwork of fields and avenues appear flat and lack perspective, but excel in their intensity of color.

This Marker of Van  Gogh is found in Arles public park
where he painted many landscape paintings.


Entrance to the Public Park in Arles
Les Vignes Rouges DArles, Vincent van Gogh
The Night Cafe in the Place Lamartine in Arles, by Vincent Van Gogh.

Downtown Arles


Driving down from Arles to the Mediterranean Sea we drove through miles of the Camargue
with Wheat fields and marshes. ranches and farms.
We saw the Ancient Horses from the Camargue  

 Camargue Horses

The Camargue horse is an ancient breed of horse  indigenous to the Camargue area in southern France. Its origins remain relatively unknown, although it is generally considered one of the oldest breeds of horses in the world. For centuries, possibly thousands of years, these small horses have lived wild in the harsh environment of the Camargue marshes and wetlands of the Rhone delta, which covers part of the départements of Gard and Bouches-du-Rhone. There they developed the stamina, hardiness and agility for which they are known today. 
The Camargue horse has long legs  which are well proportioned, strong,and resistant,with large knees and hock.
Their hooves are hard and tough , with soles that are large and wide,suited to its original marshy habitat.



                                                         Les Saintes- Maries del - la- Mer

Me Sur la Mediterranean Sea
at Les Saint Maries del  la Mer

 In June 1888 Van Gogh took a 30 mile stagecoach trip from Arles to the sea-side fishing village of 
Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer on the coast of the  Mediterranean Sea . Van Gogh's week-long trip was taken to recover from his health problems and make some seaside paintings and drawings. At that time Saintes-Maries was a small fishing village with under a hundred homes.
 Les Saintes- Maries del - la- Mer

Fishing Boats on the Beach at Saintes-Maries, watercolor, 1888,Van Gogh
The Sea at Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, 1888 ,  Van Gogh

Another seascape Van Gogh made was The Sea at Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer  in which he sought to capture light's effect on the sea. He wrote that the "Mediterranean Sea is a mackerel color: in other words, changeable – you do not always know whether it is green or purple, you do not always know if it is blue, as the next moment the ever-changing sheen has assumed a pink or a gray tint." The setting includes fishing boats returning to the village. To emphasize contrast to the color green in the painting, Van Gogh signs his name in large bright letters.

Seascape at Saintes-Maries (Fishing Boats at Sea) was painted six years after Van Gogh wrote that he wished to paint a seaside painting of sand, sea and sky. In this painting the combination of a high horizon and boats close to the top edge of the frame, draw the audience in to the choppy sea in the foreground and center of the picture. He also made three drawings of this composition.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Another Day Of Discovery in France

                                            2000 YEARS  OF HISTORY TO CROSS
The Pont du Gard (English: bridge of the Gard) is an ancient Roman aqueduct bridge that crosses the Gardon River[4] in Vers-Pont-du-Gard near Remoulins, in the Gard département of southern France. It is part of the Nîmes aqueduct, a 50 km-long (31 mi) structure built by the Romans to carry water from a spring at Uzès to the Roman colony of Nemausus (Nîmes). Because the terrain between the two points is hilly, the aqueduct – built mostly underground – took a long, winding route that crossed the gorge of the Gardon, requiring the construction of an aqueduct bridge. Built in the 1st century AD, the Pont du Gard is the highest of all Roman aqueduct bridges and is the best preserved after the Aqueduct of Segovia.
                                                  City of Roman History and Contemporary Art

Les Arenes De Nimes

Maison Carrée

Maison Carrée

Side view of  Cathedral

Modern Sculpture in Downtown Nimes

Art Fountain in Nimes

I found that Nimes was a  mixture of ancient buildings and modern art,
 a city full of museums and galleries.
We visited  the Carré d'Art  Contemporary Art Museum and saw an exhibit
 of Modern French Photographers that was both fascinating and disturbing.
This city takes more than one day to see all that it has to offer,
so looks like I'll come back next time to continue my discoveries of this 2000 year old city

Monday, December 17, 2012

Gallivanting Around Southern France


So I  forgot my computer cord in Orlando... but I didn't forget my beautiful silk blouse!!
No problem, I ordered a French cord for my Mac here in Avignon, it took a week to get but Voila! 
here I am, back online and a lot to show you!!

Our First Few Days were spent getting our bearings, checking out our village Gaujac
 and grounding ourselves...
that took several bottles of amazing French wine and some sleep  :)






The Palace des Papes

Our First stop was beautiful Avignon, only a 30 minute drive through the countryside of vineyards  
and we were in a thriving ancient city! With lots of fabulous stores to shop in
a palace built by the  Popes in the 14th Century! 

I was inspired by the patterns, images and colors of  the frescos, tiles and wallpapers found in the 
Papal Palace  and I could only imagine  how opulent  these Roman Catholic Popes lived in those days.