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

Les Semboules, Antibes

April, 2018



Official biography online – Nicolas Lavarenne



My photographs

See also:  Lavarenne en Plensa: Kuns in die openbaar   on    26/5/2016 


For Graham and Elna, who shared this with me







Fondation Maeght revisited

I rendezvous-ed with my two South African friends in Antibes and was spirited off to St Paul de Vence, north-west of Nice.  I told them of Fondation Maeght and before long we were motoring up the hill into the forest where this gallery perches on a cliff overlooking the Côte d’Azur.

This gallery, inaugurated in 1964 by André Malraux, was designed by the Catalonian architect Lluis Sert (no, that double l is not a typo).  It was my third visit and for the first time I saw (I think I saw) the motif in the form of the building:  it is the head of a bull.

                            Fondation Maeght

At my first visit many years ago I was struck by the quirky creativity of the place itself and the marvelous obsession with art.  The artists, at an invitation, ran full tilt ahead of that white-horned bull – Miro, Giacometti, Braque, Chagall, Léger, Arp, Bonnard, Nash, Calder, Hepworth.  It reads like a Who’s Who of modernist and contemporary art.

Alexander Calder 1963

Jean Arp Le Pepin géant 1956

Marc Chagall mural (detail)

Joan Miro Labyrinthe

There is currently an exhibition by the Spanish artist Eduard Arroyo.  His work is a revelation to me.  From powerful sculptures to his thought-provoking paintings, often cryptic, his styles draw from a bewildering number of sources.

Orroyo painting

Orroyo rhino

Yes, I get lyrical about the place.  A family with the means created something astounding here.  For art lovers it must be like leaping wildly into an icy rushing mountain stream.

© Will van der Walt

Les Semboules, Antibes

August, 2017



Museum pamphlet



My photographs


Dedicated, with gratitude, to Graham and Elna

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