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Posts Tagged ‘Fondation Regards de Provence’

Two reasons for visiting this expo before it ends in November. 

It’s the last chance to visit the ‘Fondation Regards de Provence’  in its current home in the Palais des Arts.  I have grown very fond of this rather dusty old library where they hang Provençal paintings – focusing on one artist at a time.  After the mayhem of visiting exhibitions in London, it is wonderful to wander around, often alone with all the paintings.  What a treat!  The Seyssaud exhibition is the 43rd and final one before they move to their new premises.

Their new gallery will be in the renovated Station Sanitaire Maritime down in docklands.  They are going to have much more space – three galleries – and so will be able to exhibit much more of their collection.  There will also be a recreation of the building’s history with video and multimedia, plus a café and restaurant.  It’s right next to the sea so will have superb views across the Mediterranean which inspired so many of the painters in the museum.

And the second reason – the Seyssaud paintings are wonderfully colourful and totally rooted in our region.  He was born in Marseille and although he travelled to Paris and exhibited there, he chose to stay in Provence.  According to the info-boards, he married a ‘paysan’ and lived in an isolated house near l’Etang de Berre, very much in tune with nature.

His paintings reflect the passing of the seasons with workers on the land, sowing seeds, gathering lavender or bringing in the harvest.  Unlike Millet where the people are predominant, Seyssaud’s workers are an integral part of the landscape, not characters in their own right.  But, as the expo shows, he could paint fine portraits, and I enjoyed his still lives which feature local produce in Provencal pots – tians, pots à graisse, cruches.  Lovely sunflowers (echoes of Van Gogh) and bathers ( ditto Cézanne) see below.

He spent his winters on the coast as he had health problems – so look out for his views of Cap Canaille, Cassis and the red rocks at Agay.

The museum is open every day 10-18:00hrs.  It costs 5€.  They have free guided tours on Sundays and Mondays at 10:30.

www.museeregardsdeprovence.com.

(Photo of Seyssaud by Norman Parkinson from National Portrait Gallery London)

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News last night that they found another two bombs next to the Mucem site but these were quickly removed – it really is amazing that these have been lying there for nearly 70 years.  Meanwhile the redevelopment of the Vieux Port area has begun.  Once all the traffic has been diverted and the area cleared, they say we will have one of Europe’s largest pedestrianised squares.

Foster and Partners won the competition to do the redesign – Lord Foster was responsible for the stunning Millau Bridge, the Carré d’Art at Nimes and the courtyard at the British Museum – so I expect it will look pretty special.

I think the town needs a facelift and this was brought home very clearly when I visited the Joseph Garibaldi expo ‘Le Midi Paisible’ at Fondation Regards de Provence.  I hadn’t heard of this artist who was born in Marseille and painted in the area all his life.  He loved the south of France and faithfully recorded what he saw – the coast, inland villages, landscapes.  But most of all, he loved the Vieux Port where he had his studio.  His paintings of the ships (amazingly accurate rigging and masts – no wobbles…), the buildings and the luminous skies are a hommage to the city of his birth.

His life 1863-1941 ran in parallel to Impressionism, Fauvism, Cubism – but he seems to have ignored it all and painted serenely on, in his own style.

I really enjoyed discovering an artist who deserves to be better known, especially locally.  This gallery specialises in Provencal painters and, next January, will be moving to a newly renovated building (formerly the station sanitaire maritime) where it will have space to show its permanent collection as well as having temporary exhibitions.  This will be part of the newly scrubbed-up docks area – bombs withstanding!

Coming out into the graffitied streets with cars parked on the pavements was a culture shock – I know Marseille will never be neat and tidy – and probably never was, even when Garibaldi was painting – but I think the clearing and development of the public spaceshas been long-overdue and will be a great plus for the city in its big year in 2013.

Now for a snack and I thank Juliet for a list of recommended cafés from Elle magazine.  These are all places where you can drop in for a bit of sustenance without sitting down for a 2-hour 3-course eye-wateringly expensive lunch.  They all serve up good soups and bio salads – the list is here: http://vegetarianprovence.wordpress.com/  I tried out the Green Bear Coffee which is right next to the Vieux Port.  It’s a friendly little café – not particularly atmospheric – but they have very good soups at just over 4€, fresh sandwiches and their dish of the day was vegetarian couscous at 6,80€.http://www.greenbearcoffee.com/Green_Bear_Coffee/Home.html

More details on the Vieux Port redevelopment and changes to traffic flows are on www.vieuxportdemarseille.fr

Somehow I think Joseph Garibaldi would have approved!

 

 

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