I’m sure I have mentioned before how lucky I am to have a lovely daughter living in the Cote D’Azure, and on my visits to see her, how we put aside a day to visit a museum of my choice.
This year, in September, we visited Musée Matisse, which is located in a beautiful olive grove (Just like Renoir’s house) in the area of Nice known as Cimiez. The area surrounding the museum is a real bonus as well; because it is full of amazing Roman ruins, which you can walk amongst, picnic, and enjoy, no “Keep off” notices.
This visit was a double bonus for me, and I’ll tell you why. Going back to the days when I had the Gaywood Art Centre, I heard of a young lad, aged 10, in Romania, who longed to be an artist, and wanted so much to be able to paint. Through the local church I was able to send him parcels each month of paint, brushes, canvases and all the things he needed to fulfil his dreams. I supported him, artistically until he was accepted into University. Now, in his 40’s he is Professor of Art at Arad University and a worldwide Contemporary Artist, exhibiting in countries all over Europe. His name is Cristian Sida, and, believe it or not, I had never actually met him. So we arranged, through facebook, to meet at the Musée Matisse in Nice. When I walked through the door and saw him standing waiting for me, He just threw his arms around me and said “I have been waiting 26 years for this meeting”. So, that made my visit so amazing and fulfilling, I will never forget it.
The musee is very spacious and airy, and is on three floors, tracing the artistic journey of Matisse from his early days to his final paintings. In this particular exhibition they also examined the relationship between Matisse and Picasso, who were not only competitors, but also inspired each other. I have to say that, in my opinion, Picasso’s work paled into insignificance next to the bold colourful work of Matisse.
As we moved from floor to floor, with an amazing commentary from Cristian, who had studied both artists, and teaches history of Art at the University, it was hard not to become emotionally involved with the work and the life story.
I found myself more and more attached to Matisse, who came across as a Perfect Gentleman. There was an excellent film to view, and it showed his thought processes and drawing skills, and let you into his life in a way that still photographs could not.
During the day, Cristian and Tracey and I had our hands stamped, and left the museum for an hour to enjoy a sandwich and coffee in the little “popup Café” in the grounds, and we talked and talked as though we had known each other for years, his English was perfect, and so was his French, and the breadth of Cristian’s knowledge was breath-taking.
After lunch, we returned to the museum, and viewed the last floor, and some of the work Matisse did in his final years. Like so many artists of his generation, he lived to a good age, continuing painting as long as he physically could.
It was one of the best days I can remember, and I learned a lot, both about Matisse and about Cristian, and we agreed we wouldn’t leave it another 26 years before we met again.