Antibes and Vallauris

It was a lovely week in Aix, with the temperatures finally feeling like fall – i.e. it’s cool but the Mistral isn’t freezing.  We’ve also been getting some rain, which makes for beautiful walking through the city.  And also a good reason to try  a new macaroon place.

I also had my first field trip this weekend.   Most of the classes at IAU include trips around France, and my art history class on Picasso, Matisse, and the Mediterranean necessitated a visit to two temporary Picasso exhibits that will be ending soon.  The first was in Antibes, the town where Picasso stayed after World War II.  The museum there was actually one of the first dedicated to Picasso, but it had a special exhibit with loans from Paris among other locations dedicated to Picasso’s time in the south.  Trapped in Paris and harassed by the Gestapo throughout the war, Picasso’s return south was one of the happiest times in his life, not least because it was at this time that he adopted his pet owl…and started his ten-year romance with Françoise Gilot.  Also in Antibes, I came across a memorial to Jean Moulin, a leader of the French Resistance.  It was a lovely day to wander around this little beach town, and I can see why Picasso was drawn to the easy lifestyle here.

Following Antibes, we made the short drive to Vallauris, a town historically known for its pottery.  While Antibes is a tourist town, Vallauris is a bit farther from the sea and a little quieter.  Picasso fell in love with Vallauris and lived there as well for a time.  During that time, about 70% of the population were potters, and the town had fallen on hard times due to the mass production of kitchenware.  Picasso, who loved painting on and playing with the clay essentially revived the industry.  Though he started out just tinkering with pre-made pieces, he also learned the process of making his own pieces.  In total, he made 4000, and still owned 3000 when he died – meaning there were 3000 pieces he didn’t want to part with.  He left behind two very  famous works in Vallauris, first War and Peace, a piece in which he painted the interior of a 14th century chapel.  Pictures of the chapel aren’t allowed, but it’s amazing.  His other work in Vallauris (besides all the pottery displayed in the museum) is Man with Sheep, a bronze sculpture to symbolize peace following the end of the war.

All in all, it was a great trip, and I look forward to more of the field trips that I have coming up.  It’s midterm season though, so I’ve got plenty of work to keep me busy int he interim.

Until next time ~


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