Posts Tagged ‘Pavillon de Vendôme’

I recently posted about both MuCEM and the museums in Avignon wheeling out  items from their archives, and now it looks like the three municipal museums in Aix are getting in on the act:  their theme is vegetation. (more…)

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dp_aicha_hamu_ok-18cc8 posterMuch as I love art, the word ‘installation’ normally sets alarm bells off in my mind: unmade beds, heaps of bricks, tortured ironwork don’t do much for me I’m afraid. So I didn’t rush to see the expo ‘Babilary’ at the Pavillon de Vendome this summer but couldn’t turn down a visit with the artist last week – which had me converted.

Aicha Hamu is an intriguing Nice-based artist who works with all manner of materials. For her Aix show, she has recreated a traditional painting ‘boeuf écorcé’ – skinned beast – but in 3D,with masses of red leather and draped scarlet strips. I unwittingly stepped (more…)

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What a rainy weekend for the launch of the new hiking trail!  If you missed walking some of it, which I have to admit I did, we can all catch up from the warmth of our sofas on Wednesday evening when France 3 is showing a programme featuring the GR2013.   ‘Des Racines et des Ailes’ is dedicating its documentary slot (and very good it is too) to MP2013: the first part will concentrate on ‘La Metamorphose de Marseille’ (!) while the second part focuses on the new hiking trail.  20:45-22:40. I believe that they have filmed a section in Aix and will be covering the work of the Ely family who have been photographing the town for over a century.  If so, this will be fascinating.

There’s the new Festival de Paques starting on 26th March – it brings 20 concerts in 10 days to the Grand Theatre de Provence.  There is a special ticket counter in the Office de Tourisme or you can book on www.festivalpaques.com.

manet-affiche_400Another treat is in store if you missed the major Manet expo in London which ends just after Easter.  I did actually go to this but my gallery-going-buddy and I found it almost impossible to see the pictures.  The expo focuses on his portraits with some beautiful paintings but I have to say it was frustrating not to have the space and calm needed to appreciate his work.  There were also some gaps – his most famous paintings like Olympia couldn’t leave Paris and the Bar at the Folies-Bergeres remained at the Courtauld.

But we can all soon enjoy a filmed visit complete with expert commentary (art historian Tim Marlow) in the comfort of the Cézanne cinema on April 11th at 20:00.  In English with French subtitles. Online booking is now open…but 12€ seems a little steep.  Nearly as much as the expo itself!

Finally a word about Ulysses who seems to be popping up as a character and a theme during MP2013.  Leafing through the various leaflets show his presence throughout the year as a symbol of the Mediterranean spirit of travel but it is his wife Penelope who has inspired a new show in Aix.  ‘Tisser des Liens’  has weaving and threads as its theme.  Various artists have been invited to create a work, each of which inhabits one of the small rooms in the Pavillon de Vendôme.  Some are intriguing like Carolle Bénitah’s white handkerchiefs each embroidered with red threads spelling out her younger-self’s aspirations; I also liked Marie Ducaté’s fabric construction of fish, crabs and shells with golden nets which linked to the existing fresco of the goddess of plenty on the ceiling above.  But some of the exhibits left me baffled.  No photos I’m afraid as they won’t let you take any (why?). Click here for the press release  press.  On til 16th June and to be followed by two more ‘weaving-themed’ exhibitions.

What really should be fun is an all-night reading of the Odyssey taking place on 3rd May. Starting at 18:00 in the place de l’Hotel de Ville, it will go on until 5am.  There will be 20 readers, plus dancers and musicians – more detail nearer the time!

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Today I went along to see this exhibition, never having heard of Henri Dobler and I came out rather liking him: after all we have him to thank for leaving his Pavillon de Vendôme to the town of Aix when he and his wife died.

He was from a very rich Swiss family who had moved to Marseille where he was born in 1863. After some years in military service, he and his wife acquired the pavillon in Aix as their ‘dream house’.  With money no object, Henri set about renovating the house (it was a run-down convent school) and furnishing it with Provençal pieces from all periods.  He also restored the gardens, using the 1680 plans for its original owner, the Duc de Vendôme, Governor of Provence, cardinal of the Catholic church, and secret lover of one of the town’s most beautiful women.

The organisers of this expo have redecorated the pavillon just as it was during Henri’s lifetime.  His home had been featured in ‘Vie à la Campagne’ – the 1929 version of Ideal Home – so we know how it looked.  I have always found this building rather empty and impersonal, so it is good to experience it with colourful wallpaper and curtains and furnishings…it really is like stepping into the Dobler home during the 20s and 30s.

Henri was also a painter, a poet, a musician, a writer, a collector and a decorator. He seems to have been on every cultural committee in Aix including the Musée Granet which is where the story gets fascinating.  It emerges that he really disliked Cézanne’s work. He was opposed to ‘la sale peinture’ as he called it and was part of the group that blocked the Granet acquiring any of Cézanne’s paintings!  He said that he detested that style of painting and ‘l’avenir, je l’espere, jugera’.  Indeed!

Upstairs we can judge Henri’s watercolours and I think Cézanne can relax.  But there is also a room of small paintings by contemporary Aix artists – Niollon, Gautier, Ravaisou, de Courcy – some of which are lovely. (Sorry –  No photos allowed)

The gardens are looking particularly nice right now with late summer flowers. So ‘Chapeau Henri’ for all the good work but perhaps one could wish his interventions at the Musée Granet had been a little less musclé!

Pavillon de Vendôme
13 rue de la Molle – 32, rue Célony
Tél : 04 42 91 88 75 / Rendez-vous animation : 04 42 91 88 74
Garden open all year.  House closed Tuesdays.  Wed-Mon: 10-12:30, 13:30-18:00hrs. Guided tours of this exhibition on Fridays at 10:30 and 14:30.

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