Villefranche sur Mer

Villefranche sur Mer
it all starts with a beach

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Three Treasures

A stunning collection, a force of nature, the mighty Maeght Foundation Musee celebrates its 50th anniversary this summer.
Whether you love modern art or not, do not miss this French treasure! Tucked away on the hills above the Côte d'Azur near St Paul de Vence, you will find works by Miro, Chagall, Braque, Kandinsky, Giacometti, Calder, Klee, Leger, Bonnard, Kelly, Matisse, and all the big names of the modern movement. Sculptures hang out in gardens and waterfalls, then grace the studios where famous art hangs. The architectural structure is a work of modern art itself. Unique and lovely, with views (beyond the art) of the mountains and the sea, this place inspires.

Built in 1300 as a fort, transformed in 1620 into a palace, acquired by the city of Cagnes sur Mer in 1937 and made into a museum and in 1948 a historic monument. today it houses contemporary art exhibits. The top deck has 360 degree panoramic views from the mountains to the sea. The images in the show were intense and disturbing.

I take a bus down from the chateau then walk uphill 'dix minutes' to Les Collettes, entering the property from the lower gardens. I am instantly transported to an earlier time and imbued with the soft light that launched the Impressionist movement.  Infusions of eucalyptus and pine, a jumble of fleurs, views of the chateau below across fields and sprawling trees. I lie in the shade, listening to cicadas. Smells. Colours. Birds and butterflies. Quiet.
At 2 pm, following the obligatory two-hour lunch break, I enter the house, filled with original Renoirs, photographs of his time here (with occasional friends Modigliani, Rodin, Bonnard, Matisse...) for the last twelve years of his life.
If I lived here, I'd paint too. Big, sensual splotches of color on canvas. Like Renoir.

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