Thursday 11 April 2013

Les Baux: "Voyages en Mediterranee"

Monet, Renoir, Matisse, Derain, Signac, Dufy, Chagall, Bonnard: the shores of the Mediterranean drew them all to paint the bright, warm colours of the South. Once again, the extraordinary art space of the old bauxite mine at Les Baux-de-Provence has been transformed into a 21st century multi-media exhibition of the familiar made new and exciting again. The paintings engulf the viewer, sliding and dancing around the vast projection walls, choreographed to music by Ravel and Gershwin and sinuous jazz.

The show begins with the 18th century marine landscapist Joseph Vernet, commissioned in 1753 to record the life of ports in France, including Marseille, Toulon, Bandol and Antibes (above). Monet's waterlilies swirl all around, on the floor and on the ceiling, to Debussy's Clair de Lune, possibly the most atmospheric suite of all.

In 1883, Renoir spent time with Monet in the Midi, and was so enchanted by Cagnes and the possibilities for painting that he ended his days there.

The Fauvists arrived too, of course: Matisse, Derain, Camoin and Signac were among those who wandered the southern shores with little money but big, explosive visions. You feel that they, in particular, would be thrilled and amazed at the presentation of their work.

Raoul Dufy was born on the northern coast of France, at Le Havre. Pulled south to find true colour and working in his distinctive style of Fauvism, he captured St-Tropez and Hyeres, but became best known for his views of Nice and Vence.

Then came Chagall, with his peerless blues and dreamscapes. Here, in Les Carrieres de Lumieres, to music by Khatchaturian evoking the artist's Russian heritage, the atmosphere gradually becomes calm and spiritual.

As in last year's Van Gogh and Gauguin show, the designers Gianfranco Iannuzzi, Renato Gatto and Massimiliano Siccardi have produced an astonishing spectacle in these cavernous spaces - bigger this year by 500 square metres. It's very well worth visiting, and runs all through the year until January 5, 2014.


Marcheline said...

Very cool! A great way to showcase art without having to tote around the originals - can't imagine why there aren't more projection galleries around...

Evelyn said...

This looks absolutely amazing! I may have to plan a visit to Provence to see it.

Vanessa said...

Wonderful colours. Like Evelyn, a trip to Provence is long overdue.

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