In Part I of my trip to Antibes, I mentioned Monsieur Picasso. We’ve visited the Picasso museum in Paris, seen an exhibition of his blue and rose periods at the Musee d’Orsay, I’ve visited his ceramics museum in nearby Vallauris but until recently had never visited his museum in Antibes, housed in the former Grimaldi Chateau.
The chateau is on the ramparts of Antibes’ Old Town and was built on the former Greek Acropolis of Antipolis, which was then a Roman castrum and finally a Medieval bishopric. The castle was owned until 1608 by the Grimaldi family (of Monaco), hence its name. You may recall there’s also a Chateau Grimaldi in Le Hauts de Cagnes.
In 1925 the chateau was acquired by the City of Antibes. In 1946, Picasso, who was living nearby in Golfe-Juan with Françoise Gilot, accepted an offer from curator Dor de la Souchère’s to set up his studio in the Castle. Picasso worked from mid-September through mid-November of 1946, creating many works, sketches and paintings, including Les Clés d’Antibes (The Keys of Antibes), covering an entire wall surface. When the artist decided to move back to Paris, he left 23 paintings and 44 sketches in the Chateau’s custody.
Subsequently, apart from the 78 ceramic works created between 1947 and 1948 at the Madoura de Vallauris’ workshop, various donations and purchases spanning from 1952 until the present day, as well as the custody pieces conferred by Jacqueline Picasso en 1991, have significantly enriched the Picasso collection of the Museum.
But it’s not just about Picasso, Nicolas de Staël’s works presented at the Museum bear testimony to the artist’s stay in Antibes from September 1954 to March 1955. On 27 December 1966, the Grimaldi Chateau was turned into the « Picasso Museum ». The Modern Art collection, begun in 1951 by Dor de la Souchère, had grown thanks to exceptional gifts from artists whose works had been exhibited at the Museum and to equally exceptional acquisitions made over the years by the City of Antibes.
In 2001, a donation by the Hans Hartung and Anna-Eva Bergman Foundation provided for the opening of two new galleries on the ground floor of the museum. A permanent exhibition allows one to retrace the creative periods of each of these artists over several decades.
In addition, the terrace of the Picasso Museum is home to a permanent collection of remarkable sculptures by Germaine Richier. Other artists represented are: Joan Miró, Bernard Pagès, Anne and Patrick Poirier. It’s well worth a visit and I’m only sorry it took us so long!