In 2021 Les Carrières de Lumières focus on Cézanne.
We adore Provence for a multitude of reasons, and honestly, most of them are art-related: the light, the warmth, the charm, and the wonderful places to paint are all found in abundance throughout the region. Over the years, many artists have traveled to paint there to experience these facets of Provençal living, including masters of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism.
Paul Cézanne was lucky enough to be born in the heart of Provence, in the beautiful city of Aix-en-Provence. He grew up in the area and painted there for many years.
Born in 1839, he moved to Paris to paint when he was 22. For the next 35 years he divided his time between Paris and his beloved Provence.
Cezanne self portrait
His father’s death in 1886 and the resulting inheritance meant he could return to Aix in search of a “simpler life”. He also inherited his father’s house, “Le Jas de Bouffan”, or “Place of High Winds” which at the time was situated in the countryside about half a mile outside the city of Aix. From here he could see the magnificent mountain Mont Sainte-Victoire which he painted obsessively almost 90 times throughout his life.
Last year, since we had no guests during the pandemic, we decided to take the time and go exploring around Cézannne’s Aix-en-Provence. We found the location where he had painted Mont Sainte Victoire several times and we began to understand why. The view of the mountain changed so rapidly as the sun moved across the sky, and the ever-changing light affected the colors and shadows that were never the same from one minute to the next! The day we went was quite blustery with clouds racing across the sky. The view was spectacular, and if you were able to paint it, a new painting could have emerged every few minutes and it would be utterly different from the last one.
No wonder he was so captivated!
Cézanne was known for his slightly strange use of perspective – his still lifes with fruit made it look like the apples were about to roll off the table and leads the eye to notice some other peculiarities: sometimes the line of the table behind the bowls of fruit would be off-kilter and completely outside the rules of logic, let alone carpentry! It’s almost as if he painted some of it while sitting down, and some of it while standing up!
Don’t be fooled into thinking that this was due to bad draftsmanship – Cézanne knew exactly what he was doing, as his paintings began to break with the conventions of the day and led towards more abstraction. He is considered the father of Cubism for this reason-he broke down the shapes in his paintings into blocks and spheres, defying the commonly accepted ideas of his day. As he said,
“Everything in Nature is modeled after the sphere, the cone, and the cylinder.
One must learn to paint from these simple figures.”
Carrières de Lumières
We are thrilled to hear that this year, the Carrières de Lumières will be showing work from Cézanne and Kandinsky. The Carrières de Lumières is a surreal and fabulous audio-visual experience that is dedicated to a different artist or group of artists each year. Found inside the Limestone mine at Les Baux de Provence, the 2021 tribute to Cézanne and Kandinsky promises to be phenomenal. Although you may consider it an unusual pairing, it is known that Kandinsky was heavily influenced by Cézanne’s approach to form, composition and the de-emphasis of conventional perspective.
Almost every year Workshops in France adds Les Carrières de Lumières to the itinerary as a standout excursion destination. We ensure that our guests experience this spectacular venue. This fall we are hosting extraordinary workshops for both Joshua Clare and Rose Frantzen as well as organizing an Art Retreat in Provence and will be taking our guests to see this historic and high-tech exhibition.
Cezanne’s Studio in Aix en Provence.
Another treat for lovers of Cézanne’s work is the visit to his studio in Aix. We make a point to reserve a tour of his studio for all of our artist guests who attend the Art Retreats at our château near Aix. There you can still see his painting gear, his easels, paint-box, artist’s smock and many of the pieces of furniture and props that he used in his paintings. It’s always fun when you recognize something on one of the shelves from one of his paintings.
The studio was built to his specifications, and he painted there every day from 1902 until his death in 1906. The walls are painted grey to minimize the reflection of light and although the floor was originally covered in hexagonal red tiles called “Tomettes” he had them replaced with simple wooden floorboards as he found that the clay tiles were reflecting too much red into the room and onto his canvases.
Cézanne: Self Portrait
Cézanne: Le Lac Annecy
Cézanne: Carrière Bibemus
Cézanne: Still Life
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If you would like to read more about other historical artists, we have other blog posts such as Sorolla at the Hôtel Caumont; and the spectacular Les Baux, the Quarry of Light featuring Sorolla, Picasso and the Spanish Masters; and Tech, Art and a Starry Night, where Vincent van Gogh’s works were projected up to 30ft tall.
Blogger: Shirley Hambrick
Shirley Hambrick is an award-winning stained-glass artist and painter. She has lived in Scotland, Spain and the USA. Shirley has been part of the Workshops in France team over the last few years and attended over 10 of these trips. Being Scottish, she was trained at Edinburgh College of Art and Design. Shirley teaches in the West Virginia area and you can some of her beautiful work here.
The art of traveling with family. It’s always a privilege to receive guests who decide to bring family members. We have discovered that one of the most enriching ways to experience a workshop or art retreat is to share it with a family member.
Their work, like other contemporaries around Europe, rejected traditional art styles and subjects and thrust the art scene into modernism. Like their counterparts on the Continent, these artists were ready to try something fresh and new when it came to painting.
Did you know Alizarin, one of the most common and beloved colors in a painter’s kit, was originally a cheaper replica of another color? Until recently artist’s didn’t know that the beautiful reds they were using were fugitive and would fade over time! Many famous works have suffered the same fate of fading colors.