24 June 2013

Les oeuvres d'art

I don't remember how the question came up but someone at my book group asked a few months ago what we would buy for ourselves if money was no object.  Several waxed raphsodic about private libraries and loads and loads of books, yet I opted for works of art.  I love reading and am a highly textual person, but I don't have to own books as long as I can read them, whereas having art on my walls is something I do need, for inspiration, reflection, and happiness.  Some of my readers know that my family is currently living in what was formerly a home belonging to Paul Cézanne's sister, but there are no remaining artworks here on the walls.  That, coupled with our own budgetary constraints, means that I get my art fix with cheap prints.  Several postcard prints on the walls around my desk refresh me when I glance away from the computer screen: Louis Janmot's Fleur des champs 1845, and Picasso's Jacqueline assise dans un fauteuil 1964, and I've added a postcard photograph of David, by Michelangelo 1501-04, all of which I have had the great fortune to see in their original form, at Lyon's Musée des Beaux-arts, Aix's Musée Granet, and Florence's Galleria Accademia.

The fact that we live in a part of the world right now where I can first view an original piece of art, and then purchase a print of it is a huge privilege for me.  In Aix, art is all around, and I can just walk down a few streets to the local art museum, Musée Granet as I did yesterday, to enjoy some visual feasts of amazing oeuvres (works) by Cezanne, Renoir, Picasso, Matisse, and my newest discovery, Camoin.  A new two-part exhibition is taking place simultaneously at Aix's museum and Marseille's Musée des Beaux-Arts, called Le Grand Atelier Du Midi (The South's big studio).  All of the artworks, collected from around the world, have as their point of origin, le midi, or the area on both sides of the Mediterranean, meaning the south of France and the north of Africa, where French and other artists came in a steady stream particularly since the late 1800s, to take advantage of the amazing light on both shores and to re-interpret themes by each other, of bathers, of the sea, of ports, of lone pine trees and mountains.  I feel I could never get tired of looking at some of these pieces, and can't help being a little envious of a young family friend who is a museum guard at Aix museum's exhibition this summer.  Standing around and watching visitors for hours is perhaps already tiresome, but think of the visual pleasures she receives each time she needs to avert her gaze from her work for a moment.

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