LOST AND FOUND IN NICE

A strange paradox comes into play when you get lost in a grand old city.  You’re disappointed, of course, not seeing what you planned to see.  But then, yesterday, as I strode through streets I would never visit I saw things I would never have seen.  Striking modern architecture … a large pleasing mural …

Reflections in the windows of the Acropolis,building

A mural from tiles

When I had traipsed what felt like twenty kilometres I was back on Avenue Felix Faure which abuts the Park of the Arts.

Suddenly, before me, towered a giant sculpture … a vast cube-headed god, probably five storeys high.  I wonder whether it is the biggest of its kind in France.  When I got over my disbelief, recognizing it as a sculpture that I had seen before, elsewhere in Nice, but then, a mere three metres high, I stared in amazement.  The city planners, it seems, with the Park of the Arts, want to expand Nice as the capital of the arts in the south of France, something it has probably always been.

But this figure … I will in time establish whose head, heart and hands fashioned it, but right now, I am compelled to open the duct and gush a little.

It is a strange choice.  It is a symbol of blindness, somehow, of a being locked in squareness, which could imply many things.  It was stark against the blue of the morning, braced and brooding, as tiny people scurried below it on the pavement.  Is this work a plea?  Is it a warning?  Is it an image of humanity in a post-spiritual world?

Grey and courageous, it disturbs me in its unforgiving strength.  And I have strange thoughts.  I think of Magritte’s Face with Apple.  Could this giant be smiling?  Do I see my own blindness in it, my own smile?

© Will van der Walt

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

April, 2018

 

My photographs

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

A LESSON FROM HISTORY

I have always learnt lessons from history and from Michael Nelson’s The French Riviera A History I have learnt something to share:  Always give back what you borrow.  I quote from the text.

“The French Revolution would not have been complete in Nice without a guillotine, which arrived to meet the needs of the Alpes-Maritimes on 20 November 1793.  The problem was that there was no one to execute.  So Nice lent it at the beginning of December to Grasse, which was then in the Var, which executed thirty citizens.

“They included six priests, ten workmen, four officials, five ‘bourgeois’, one lawyer, one merchant, one spinster and one nun.  Grasse returned it to Nice on 20 January, when they received their own machine.  The Nice workmen initially refused to set up the machine, but eventually it was erected on Place d’Egalité, now the Place du Palais de Justice, but without being used.”

So, really, there was no reason to change the Place d’Egalité to the Place du Decapité.  What remains for me from this story is always to return what you have borrowed.  Just remember to clean it properly, wipe the surface.  It could rust the blade.

© Will van der Walt

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

April, 2018

 

Source

Michael Nelson: The French Riviera A History

Notes

“Alpes-Maritime” – the county

“Grasse” – the city about 80 kms north-west of Nice

“Var” – the county that Grasse was in

 

My drawing

 

 

 

 

 

ART FELL ON ME – the work of Nicolas Lavarenne

The first in a series of two

During 2017 more than twenty sculptures of the Nice-born artist Nicolas Lavarenne took to the streets of the medieval quarter of Antibes.  As a kind of exhibition, they were placed at strategic spots, some mounted on chrome beams to raise them above the cobbles.

About his work, Lavarenne has said, “Naked as the first man who stood up to see further, my sculptures dash on their stilts to survey the time. Detached from the earth, pinned to the sky, they run from town to town and around the world … And I’m happy with them.”

Some may be tempted to speak of the sculptural style as « realistic », but it is, of course, not realistic.  Despite the accurate anatomy of the figures, they are idealized, attenuated.

It could be the energy of the figures that made me think of figures in baroque painting, but the angularity is far more stark.

Almost all the figures are gestural.  They challenge their world, leap up at it.  They are bold, defying wind, it seems. “Pinned to the sky,” Lavarenne says.

 

© Will van der Walt

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

April, 2018

 

Source

Official biography online – Nicolas Lavarenne

 

Images

My photographs

See also:  Lavarenne en Plensa: Kuns in die openbaar   on 

http://www.loertoer.wordpress.com    26/5/2016 

 

For Graham and Elna, who shared this with me

 

 

 

 

 

ART FELL ON ME – the work of Nicolas Lavarenne

The second in a series of two

It is the drama of these figures that make them memorable.  Yet, there are figures that languidly contrast with all the gusto.  There is the Dozer and the Thinker.

 

The placing of the figures might well have been done by Lavarenne himself.  One leaps off the wall of Les Remparts;  another is framed by the arch of Porte de l’Orme.  And one, above the Harbour Gate, hails the world on his haunches.

They chase each other on the remnants of the Antibes City Wall.  And one quirkily plays in the solemn presence of Plensa’s Nomade on the St Jaume ramparts.

It is the spontaneity, the vigorous spirit of creation, that brings on Lavarenne’s humorous remark that “Art fell on me.”  For centuries art was confined to galleries and statues were almost all cultural-political.  From the 20th-century there is a new emphasis on public sculpture.  Lavarenne is a flag-bearer in this liberation.

© Will van der Walt

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

April, 2018

 

Source

Official Biography Nicolas Lavarenne

 

Images

My photographs

 See also    Lavarenne en Plensa: Kuns in die openbaar

on  http://www.loertoer.wordpress.com  26/05/2018

For Graham and Elna, who shared this with me

 

 

 

“Et Dieu … crea la femme” (1956)

I recently saw this film on French television, probably a little nostalgia for the French.  In South Africa it was banned in an instant at the time.  It would fascinating to see the archives in this regard:  what would the reasons have been?  Interestingly, the film was controversial in France, as well.  The French, I’ve seen, laud liberté in artistic expression, but they remain surprisingly conservative.

Roger Vadim made this film with a youthful Brigitte Bardot.  The film, by the standards of French cinema, has shortcomings.  I found the acting wooden and the plot a touch forced.  It takes place in the poorer quarters of St Tropez, the city on the southern coast, where Bardot would in later years make her permanent home.

The film, it seems to me, had two purposes — to make money with the moving of age-old boundaries in the portrayal of women; secondly, to portray a complex person.  The wildest moments of the film are the dance sequence at the end, where Juliette (Bardot) obliterates the rules, while husband (Trintignant), pistol in tow, and the solemn businessman (Jurgens) look on, shocked.

The title of the film gave me pause, something which pornography would not do.  A cynic would dismiss the title, but sometimes cynics say more about themselves.  The title asks us, I think, to respect this young woman because of, in spite of, her not-to-be-denied attractions.  She is not only dangerously sexy; she is also a complex person – vulnerable, cute, faithful, lost, loving … and she is desperate, irresponsible and becomes a real threat.  At the end of the film, she shows the world what a woman sans inhibitions looks like, in her dancing, in her sensuality.  What was it in that scene that the South African censor board saw, Rorschach-wise?

“Les Mepris” film poster

It is possible, perhaps probable, that, as a result of the development of film technology in the preceding 50 years, the images of Bardot in 1956, were the most erotic in history — if we can agree that this is not pornography.  In this film it is rather her sensual beauty than the exposure of her body, which does not in fact happen. One sees more in the Les Mepris film poster.

I would be interested if there are feminists that regard this final scene, indeed the film itself, as the liberation of women.  Or the contrary.

© Will van der Walt

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

 April, 2018

 

Source

Wikipedia:  En Dieu crea la femme

 

Images

Postcard from Jean-Luc Godard’s film “Les Mepris”.

 

 

    

 

 

 

“LES DIABOLIQUES”   

This film was released in 1954.  The rights for the use of the novel had been secured by Henri-Georges Clouzot hours before Alfred Hitchcock would have done so.   As a psychological thriller with touches of gothic horror the film was a box office success.  It has become one of the icons of the genre with many film directors citing it as an influence.   Véra Clouzot, Paul Meurisse and a young Simone Signoret give finely nuanced performances.  The screening of the film on France 5 TV this month was preceded by a discussion and due tribute.

1954 Poster

If the film engrossed me, if the climax was terrifying, I was left with an ambivalence.  There is a basic and obvious flaw in the plot and I wondered whether Hitchcock would have allowed that to go through.  The moral centre of the film, it seems to me, is located with the wife (Clouzot) and the lover (Signoret) in their plans to murder the husband (Meurisse).

The deed takes place early in the film and, somehow, you want them to get away with it.  The body disappears and the rest of the film deals with the increasing psychological anguish of the wife and, seemingly, the lover.

Signoret and Clouzot

When it turns out that husband was never murdered and apparently rises from the dead, the wife with whom we strongly sympathize, has a heart attack and dies.  The lover and husband, happily reunited, had planned the whole thing, but they are arrested in the final moments.  For me, the comeuppance is so slight as to be congratulatory on the brilliance of the two plotters.  A little boy, known to have been an eye witness to key evvents, makes no further contribution to the unravelling of justice.

There are three other films I have seen that have this moral ambivalence.  They are Clockwork Orange in which the psychopathic Alex “survives” being morally cured of his evil;  Psycho in which the woman, escaping with money, earning our sympathy, is savagely murdered halfway through the film;  Barry Lyndon which ends with the morally reprehensible main character unchanged.  (This may have been a fault of the film.  I have not read the book.)

Should art be morally clear, committed simply to what is right?  Does this veer towards moralism and preachiness?  Are Shakespeare’s tragedies morally ambivalent?  Is moral ambivalence closer to the truth of life?  The questions begin to mushroom.  It is a lively forum.

© Will van der Walt

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

April, 2018

 

Source and image

Wikipedia: Les Diaboliques

image Signoret, Clouzot – France premier

 

 

MODERN STAINED GLASS, Côte d’Azur

Modernism put its own stamp on the traditional and much-respected art of stained glass windows.  The Côte d’Azur is no exception.  Déco designers in the first decades of the 20th-century in Nice heralded the departure from the traditions.

They often abandoned figurative form characteristic of a thousand years of stained glass.  Stained glass windows now became part of secular buildings.

In the early-1950s, Matisse, inspired by the ideas of Sister Jacques-Marie, simplified the designs as they had never been.  His theme was light.

 

The Notre Dame de l’Assomption , Rue de Grasse, Antibes, was built in the 1950s.  The stained glass design is abstract.  I was struck by the large fluted window which is strangely radiant according to your position in the church.

Galerie Maeght, near St Paul de Vence, was completed in the early-1960s.  The inspirational window by Georges Braque is in the chapel on the grounds of the Gallery.

Elsewhere in the building there are two rather entertaining secular windows by Joan Miro.

 

                        Stained Glass by Miro

In the afternoons, when I take my walk, I pass the little Eglise de Ste Marguerite, in which I once photographed the remarkable window.  The church dates from the early-1960s.

There is a return to traditional form in the auditorium windows of L’Eglise du Sacre Coeur, Antibes.  This church, strikingly modern in its design, was built from 1969 to 1972.  On the porch, though, there are windows with abstract design.

 

 

© Will van der Walt

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

April, 2018

 

Source

Wikipedia – Stained glass windows in the modern era

 

Images

Deco image – Paul Castela: Splendeurs de Nice (Editions Giletta. Nice, 1991.)

My photographs

 

See also “Gekleurde glas” – http://www.loertoer.wordpress.com

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: