Yesterday we visited Collioure, a small town on the Mediterranean that was the birthplace of Fauvism – Matisse, Andre Derain, and their friends. It is a tourist haven that had us wondering what the Riviera must be like if this place was so crowded in September. The sun drenched town was 90 on this autumn day. We loved the typical Mediterranean contrasts of orange roofs, pink stucco, blue water, and lush green foliage. In truth it look very Californiana, but is only about 10 miles from the Spanish border.
Collioure has posted prints of 20 Matisse and Derain paintings around the waterfront in the locations where the artists painted the scenes. Of course the harbor has changed much over the years. Also, the nature of Fauvism being abstract, it was sometimes difficult to see the image in the landscape. However, there was no doubting the inspiration that this picturesque town offers. We strolled the edge of the harbor, looking at paintings, taking photos for our own paintings later, and enjoying ourselves. We got to put our hands in the Mediterranean for the first time!
One of the discoveries of our trip has been Aristide Maillol, a painter and sculptor who lived from 1861 to 1944. We first saw his work in a show in Vancouver, BC a few years ago. Then we saw a collection of his scuptures in San Antonio last winter. In Paris we had seen more of his work at the Musee D’Orsay and Pompidou Centre. Therefore, when I learned that there was a Maillol Museum in the mountains outside of Collioure we had to visit.
The road out of town wound south along the coast. It was a typical Mediterranean road, hugging the cliffs on one side and the sea on the other. We drove through two other small villages before heading inland. Eventually the road narrowed to a single lane with the occassional wide spot for getting by another car. We arrived at a three stall parking area with a small iron gate and sign that said “Musee Maillol.”
This museum is in the artist’s restored studio in the mountains near his birthplace. For the last half of his life he spent his winters here in the studio, mostly sketching and painting. Summers were spent in a studio near Paris where he concentrated on sculpture. The studio was saved and restored mainly due to the energies of Maillol’s last model who fought tirelessly to have this museum created as a monument to the artist who had made her form familiar to art lovers. Maillol is buried on the grounds beneath one of the sculptures. We wandered through the rooms, seeing unbelievably beautiful sculptures, a few paintings, several sketches, and the artist’s kitchen and dining room set for dinner. They had a DVD documentary of the artist with interviews and demonstrations made in 1943, one year before he died. Despite the fact that it is in French and on PAL format, we bought it after watching several minutes of it. This artist’s vision might be worth learning French and getting a PAL DVD player.
The museum happened to also be hosting a Bob Dylan exhibit. It features photographs of this icon from 19065-67. Dylan allowed candid as well as studio shots during that time, something he has not done since. It was a wonderful glimpse at this young poet and musician at a very turbulent time.
All in all it was a very fine day – sunshine, art, music! What next?