Artists in Provence, van Gogh to Vasarely

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“This bowler hat may be the one Cezanne was wearing on the picture in our leaflet, and these small bottles also appear in some of his paintings,“ the guide explains. Two dozen deeply moved visitors eye the personal items left in the painter’s studio in Aix-en-Provence. Most of them are elderly ladies who had a hard time climbing up the steps to the first-floor atelier room. But Cezanne is not the only artist in Provence in whose footsteps you can walk today.

Cezannes’s studio

A small number of Cezanne paintings can be seen in the town’s art museum, but the studio with his personal belongings is clearly the honeypot for the “Artists in Provence” sightseeing circuit.

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St. Remy and van Gogh

Not far away in St. Remy, the mental hospital where van Gogh spent a year in 1889-90, also draws a lot of visitors. They come to see a cell in the old monastery building redesigned to resemble the painter’s room during his stay here, and a small exhibition on mental health treatments in the 19th century. No original paintings can be seen in St Remy, but the view from the window is the real thing, with mountains (the Alpilles) in the background as can be seen in many of van Gogh’s paintings.

The Foundation Vasarely

By far the least popular of the artist sites in the area, was the Fondation Vasarely in Aix-en-Provence. It was also the most stunning, we found. One had to ring the bell to have someone open the door of the wide, honeycomb-shaped building overlooking the town, but then were overwhelmed by the 44 monumental installations.

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If you want to read more travel stories about Victor Vasaerly see also Vasarely’s Op-Art in France and Hungary

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