Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Art and Architecture

We discovered a very unusual new art center, still in the making. CHATEAU LA COSTE near Aix-en-Provence has long been known for making wine but has recently expanded into the world of art and architecture. You can still buy wine at the chateau, but today the premises have been expanded and embellished with new buildings by leading architects such as American Frank Gehry, Japanese Tadao Ando, and Frenchman Jean Nouvel, and a number of sculptures by artists from the US, Brazil, Ireland and elsewhere dot the hilly landscape. Further art works are planned, as well as additional buildings by Brazilian Oscar Niemeier and Italian Renzo Piano. All this in a tiny village a stone’s throw from Aix!  

Chateau La Coste

On the subject of art, it was just announced that the PICASSO CASTLE in the village of Vauvenargues, where he lived for a number of years with his last wife Jacqueline and where they are both buried, will be open to visitors again this summer. This is not a museum, and the private property belongs to Jacqueline’s only daughter who lives in Paris. At the occasion of a blockbuster show on “Cézanne and Picasso” in Aix a few years ago, the local museum director persuaded the owner to open the chateau to visitors for the summer months. It was such a success that this year the place will be opened again for an exhibit of Picasso’s etchings.

Picasso's castle

We are starting to hear the first stirrings of the upcoming Opera Festival with the artists settling in for a month of performances in July. In June, some 30 young singers who have been selected from music schools worldwide will be following Master Classes that are open to the public, and perform in open-air concerts at various venues in and around the city of Aix. These concerts start at sundown and at first the birds chirp along with the singers as if in competition until the dark calms them down. Music is indeed a universal language.

DID YOU KNOW... that a “pretzel” is a “bretzel” in French?