Thursday, 25 September 2014

Mountains and Matisse

Unlike our first trip to Nice we didn't see as many sights but lived more like locals, going for a run (Bill ran 90% of days, I did about 30%), fetching groceries, cooking at home.

We did do two tourist trips, one to see the mountains on a train trip between Nice and Digne. It was a little silly, really, travelling for 3 hours to have lunch and then return. 

An enviable vegetable patch.

Having lived in Salt Lake City I wasn't as taken with the scenery as Bill. 

And had I Googled before and seen all these train wreck photos I probably wouldn't have gone at all! But there are some mountain pictures in there too in case you're interested.  

The patio eating area. Only one train per day between Nice & Digne, so maybe not as strange to live on the railway as one might think.

I liked the little train stations, some of which were residential with their own vegetable plots, chicken houses and laundry lines. 

Le Var River
Another day we went to the Matisse Museum, which amazingly was free for visitors from England! 

A large, well-used park by the Matisse museum in Nice.

I'm not a huge fan of the work for which Matisse seems most famous - his Odalisque pictures. There had been an article in a Sunday magazine about his paper cut outs period where he employed young girls to place the bits he cut out on large posters. Not excited about those either.  However, some of his line drawings are stunning in their simplicity.  Some of his last work was to decorate the Rosary Chapel at Vence and there is a large sketch of a robed man that was also lovely in its simplicity.

Bill pointed out a painting of Christ's body after the crucifixion, done in the classical style. I can't find a copy of it, though there is a pale skeletal version, but that's not at all like the one I saw. This one painted Christ as a muscular, tanned man and in spite of all the wounds and that I don't much like religious art, this was beautiful, in dark rich colours. Even Picasso knew how to paint in this style, so I gather it was the starting point of most painters whatever they chose to do later.

However, my soul is moved by textiles first and always. There was a very simple blue and gold robe, featured in some painting, that Bill and I spent 20 minutes trying to figure how it was woven and then constructed. We never really worked it out. The robe looked as though a rectangular piece started at the waist in front, went over the head and ended at the waist in the back, with a hole for the neck. The side seams only allowed a space sufficient for the hands. The waist seam attached an equally rectangular skirt. What was remarkable was the print that had been woven or manipulated to decorate the shoulders, the waist and the hem. But this was just a passing interest for me.

My very favourite thing in the whole museum was an enormous piece of needlework, about 10' tall and probably about that wide or more. I remember three large arches within a rectangular frame of fabric. The same motif of flower covered the whole thing, the frame being applique and solid but the arches being shaped cut outs. Each petal shaped hole was no larger than the circle I can make with my finger and thumb - and each and every hole was bound with beige fabric. It looked to be a simple muslin fabric that had been hand dyed in blue and red but for the beige; in places the blue was more green and perhaps it was all green originally. 

It was so old - much patched in places - it was hard to tell. Whatever it once was it was still to me a glorious creation of patience and skill. I'm sad that the only picture I can find is from a book, shared on this blog. I'm definitely going to have to come back to this blog and do some browsing! In fact, I think it is this wall hanging on the cover of the book!

That's the hanging in his studio window, this sort of piece is made from jute and it's called a haiti, according to another blog.

Isn't it beautiful?


Gam Kau said...

It looks so beautiful there! What a lovely trip.

Beryl said...

Very interesting about Matisse - a Museum that I would not have gone out of my way to see, but have now put it on the list of places to see next time I am in Southern France. Got a laugh out of scenery when compared to Utah - I do see your point. One of my favorite things is doing my own cooking in a foreign place.