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Monday, January 30, 2012

Picasso in the South of France

Vallauris, situated between Nice and Cannes, might not a hot spot but the great artist Pablo Picasso lived there for a good number of years.
Picasso discovered a whole new medium at this little seaside town on the French Riviera --   clay and the world of ceramics.
The maestro was intrigued at the malleability of clay, the firing techniques, and the buzz of using yet another means of showing his talent.
 Hooked, he became an eager student and moved there with his mistress Françoise Gigot in 1948. He found teachers at the Madoura workshop who taught him the basics:  Picasso played, experimented and worked with unconventional tools such as kitchen knives for surface patterns, plates and cups, whatever he found interesting.
The Mayor was pleased to have Picasso in Vallauris; the industry wasn’t doing too well but suddenly artists were flocking to the town and the industry was booming.
In 1952, Picasso became bored and wanted to leave. The Mayor, anxious to keep him in Vallauris gave Picasso permission to paint a small Romanesque chapel no longer in use. Picasso worked intensely and   designed two huge murals, War and Peace completed in September that year.  This was the last of Picasso’s political compositions.
The artist donated the two compositions painted on hardboard panels of over 100m2 to the French State in 1956. Vallauris now has its own Picasso museum, Musée Picasso inaugurated in 1959. Picasso also donated a bronze statue Man with a Sheep to the town. He eventually left Vallauris after producing a total of total of 4,000 works.
Sadly, there aren’t too many potters around today in Vaulauris and the original Madoura workshop closed a few years ago.
 The town pays tribute to the artist every year -- “Vallauris celebrates Picasso” is an important event every July in Vallauris.

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