Paradise Lost: the Art of the South of France from Cézanne and Van Gogh to Picasso and Matisse

The first talk focuses on the way in which Cézanne and Van Gogh responded to the strong light and colours of the Midi. It examines Van Gogh’s debt to Japanese art and Cézanne’s interest in Baroque and classical imagery. It shows how these contributed to Van Gogh’s use of colour as a way of representing emotion and to Cézanne’s interest in three-dimensional form. The talk draws comparisons with other painters of rural life such as Millet, Courbet and the Pont-Aven. It also describes the artists’ difficult relationship with key contemporaries such as Paul Gauguin and Emile Zola.

The second talk traces the influence of Van Gogh and Cézanne on the work of the Fauves and Cubists working in the South. It shows how their celebration of the simple life was shaped by Biblical and classical allusions and by the introduction of exotic influences from Africa and the South Seas. The talk describes the importance of Marseille and of a string of previously undiscovered villages before the first world war. It then moves to the period after 1918 and compares Picasso’s experiments with neo-classicism and surrealism to Matisse’s homage to Delacroix and the rococo. It examines the utopian ideas of Léger and le Corbusier and the work of Bonnard, Yves Klein and Nicolas de Stael. It ends with an examination of the way in which the post-war tourism of the south of France has been depicted by artists such as Malcolm Morley and Martin Parr.

Related Talks:
I offer two talks about ‘The Art of Paris from 1815 – 1945’ and a third on ‘Impressionism in Northern France’. These complement the above by explaining how artists celebrated the capital and the resorts that were developed in Normandy in the Second Empire. In addition I offer a fourth talk that is a comparison of the art of Picasso and Matisse. Please click on the Contact Button to send an enquiry