Summer in the Pyrenees

In the footsteps of Soutine

Next week, I will be leading a group of artists at a workshop in Céret, a town in the foothills of the French Pyrenees. I have been visiting Céret for 16 years, and continue to find it very inspiring, so I thought I would relate a thing or two about this magical place.

I first came to Céret through Chaim Soutine. Soutine is my favourite artist, and I knew he had lived and painted there for three years, from 1919-1922, and Iwanted to see the landscape that inspired these lush paintings. This pilgrimage proved more successful than I could ever have hoped. Not only did I find the spirit of Soutine among the towering plane trees and verdant hills, but also a great deal more art history, as well as a beautiful Catalan town in its own right.

In 1911, Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque lived and worked here together, possibly laying the foundations for Cubism. In Céret’s Musée d’Art Moderne, you can see a ceramic bowl series on which Picasso depicts the bullfighting that is an ancient part of local culture. The Museum itself was founded with the support of Picasso and Henri Matisse, on the initiative of the art world figure Burty Haviland, who lived in and brought many artists to Céret. Here you are also not far from Coulioure, the headquaters of the Fauvist movement on the Mediterranean sea.

Documenting the wild landscape around Céret, and the colourful characters in the town itself, has been a source of endless enjoyment for me over the years. The atmosphere in summer, blazing during the day and soft in the evening, has a unique place in my life and in my work. I would recommend it to anyone.

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