The Riviera: A History in Pictures

Fascinating 2 part series presented by the actor Richard E Grant

Painting Paradise

Two-part sun-filled series in which Richard E Grant follows in the footsteps of artists who have lived, loved and painted on France’s glorious Cote d’Azur.

Revealing the intertwined relationship between modern art and the development of the French Riviera as an international tourist haven, Grant explores how Impressionist painters Cezanne, Monet and Renoir first discovered the region in the 19th century when the newly-built railway arrived there.

Captivated by the light and colour of this undiscovered landscape, the painters immortalised its shores on canvas and in doing so advertised the savage beauty of the region. For Neo-Impressionists Paul Signac and Henri Edmund Cross the region provided a vision of utopia, while for Henri Matisse the vivid colours of the area inspired him to adopt a new palette and in doing so set modern art en route to abstraction.

With visits to L’Estaque, St Tropez and Nice, Grant maps the progress of the region from cultural backwater to bohemian hot spot

The Golden Era

Richard E Grant explores how modern art and the Riviera grew up together when France’s Cote D’Azur became the hedonistic playground and experimental studio for the great masters of 20th century painting. With Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso resident on the coast, other artists from Jean Cocteau to Henri Lartigue, Raoul Dufy to Fernand Leger and Francis Picabia to Sergei Diaghilev were drawn to the area. As transatlantic liners brought America’s super-rich to the region, art and celebrity became integrally intertwined as cultural gurus and multi-millionaires all partied on the beach. In an era of sunshine and bathing, of cinema and fast cars, of the Ballet Russes and Monte Carlo casinos, Grant discovers the extraordinary output of what became briefly the world’s creative hub.

I can understand why artists flocked to the Riviera, the light is amazing so different from the light here in the UK.

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