It may sound preposterous to visit France for the Art and not stop in Paris. We did not and if you note previous posts, we have already done that, though, I am sure, there is still more to find there. We went to the West and Southwest of France for four weeks, beginning in Toulouse and traveling as far north as Rennes before completing the loop.

As always, I will include more than Art in this post, and I hope you will not mind. There is just so much I like to share.

A little background: Toulouse has long been a center for learning. The university is the third largest in France (after Paris and Lyon) with 119,000 students and one of the oldest in Europe (1229). It has been a Visigoth capitol, capitol of Aquitaine and Languedoc, but now the seat of the Midi-Pyrenees region. It is the fourth largest city in France.

It was time for the International Art Festival, which is a good enough reason for us. We got an apartment on the west side of the Garonne River, near the tram, and set out to see what the city had to offer. Here is some of the Art we saw at the airport:

Artemiss and Siegfried by Alain Sechas from Colombe France 2005

222.5 degree Arc x 5 by Bernar Venet from Chateau-Arnoux, 1999

We had the pleasure of attending the Rio Loco festival taking place just down the street from where we were staying. The theme for this year’s festival was Caribbean, and there were lots and lots of tents selling food and crafts from all over the world. This is the first thing we saw:

The works were done by Franky Amete from Guyana. He uses a compass to design his artworks which have a definite African feel. He calls it “tembe” and he worked with local school children to make these:

We soon came upon another kind of artistic performance: Christophe Pavia - Mysterieuses Coiffures:

Instant artwork. Here are a few more pieces we saw at the festival:

Trio Loco by Arnaud Loumeau, Franeck, Soia - Collectif Indelebile

The next day we went to a neighborhood library (mediatheque) where Franky was giving a workshop on his technique. Marie gave it a shot.

The city seemed to be bursting with Public Art:

Fontaine Ariege et Garonne

We happened upon an opening at one of the many galleries we passed:

Louis Treserras at Sakah Gallery
Berit Treserras at Sakah Gallery
Liliana Proux, Sakah Gallery

But now it was time to get into the special exhibitions for the Art Festival. Down the street was Espace Croix-Baragon. On the ground floor and in the courtyard were works by Ukrainian artist Mykola Malshko:

Poet. Hill and On Framwork by Mykola Malyshko, 2011

And upstairs was work by another Ukrainian, Lada Nakonechna:

Negotiating Table by Lada Nakonechna, 2104

While his work was more fun, hers was very political. CLICK HERE TO SEE MORE.  This was part of the International Festival of Art that we came to see in Toulouse. Exhibitions were spread around the city and in some interesting spaces.

The next day we went to see the exhibit at Les Abattoirs, which means “the slaughterhouse.” It cleaned up very nicely and surrounded by sculpture:

What is Public Sculpture no. 3 by Frank Scurti, 2007
Les Pes del parpathol-Les Pieds du papillon by Jessica Stockholder of Chicago, 2013

And more than a dozen mosaics done of works by Fernand Leger by Heidi Melano:

La Grande Parade . premier etat (1952) of Fernand Leger by Heidi Melano (1984-93)
La Partie de Campagne, 2nd etat of Fernand Leger (1953) by Heidi Melano (1984-93)


This is a contemporary art museum, inside were displays by Swiss artist Franz Gertsch:

Irene by Franz Gertsch, 1980
Johanna I by Franz Gertsch, 1983-84
Schwarzwasser Triptych by Franz Gertsch, 1991-92

And Susan Hiller (born in Tallahassee, living in London):

Channels by Susan Hiller
From India to Planet Mars by Susan Hiller

As well as a floor of art from their permanent collection. Here are some we liked:

 Pisseur en face I by Jean Dubuffet, 1961
 Echelles XIX seicle, Mali, Dogon
 La Grande Ourse by Jean Dewasne, 1958.

Out side Les Abattoirs was a wonderful carousel that was also a work of art:

 And more sculpture:

Agoraphobia by Franz West  2005
Arche by Daniel Coulet, 2001

We heard some music and followed it to a square where an unusual band featuring lots of double reeds was playing.  And people were dancing the Sardane.

This is a dance of Catalonian extraction which was the reason for the celebration.

You may think of Catalan as being in Spain, but it is really just on the other side of the Pyrenees and the culture is found on both sides, like the Basques.

Then we walked upriver to the Chateau d’Eau which had been converted into a museum of photography. Now there was an exhibition for the Festival done together by two artists, Marie Cool & Fabio Balducci (French & Italian) A few of the pieces had to be performed throughout the day:

Chateau d'Eau
 by Marie Cool Fabio Balducci
 by Marie Cool Fabio Balducci

Across the street was the Hotel Dieu:

closeup of fountain

This former convent offered some interesting space for displays by two French artists, Elsa Sahal:

 Elsa Sahal
And Georges Jeanclos:

Georges Jeanclos

Across the river was the Ecole des Beaux Arts. Every Sunday they have artists selling their work on the riverside:

Annie Patay
 Nectoux Annie
Apixia Alais Rainier
Thierry Martine

More inadvertent Art:

Our next museum is called Fondacion Bemberg. I remembered the name as being a place lots of paintings were borrowed from for exhibitions. They had lots, but would not allow pics to be taken. Here are a few I found. I only wish I could have shot specific works.

There were two floors of rooms with art of all periods, plus furniture and decorative items. We started at the end and saw the Impressionist paintings and drawings. An occasional Renoir, Degas, Pissarro, or Monet, but lots of others. There was Toulouse-Lautrec:

Scheile, Braque, Matisse, Gauguin, Modigliani (drawings), Dufy (Fauvist), Picasso (drawings), Odilon Redon, Berthe Morisot, Jacque Vilon, and even a self-portrait by the legendary actress Sarah Bernhardt:

La famille Kesller a cheval by Raoul Dufy

Other rooms with had Latours and old masters like Titian and Tintoretto.  There was a whole room of Bonnard:

The Venetian Room featured a huge chandelier, probably Murano.

There were several by Lucas Cranach, Sr including one that was shipped to another exhibition. The piece entitled Sibylle de Cleves I thought was quite unusual, in color and fashion:

In the Louis XVI room there was a painting by a woman artist named Elisabeth-Louise Vigee Le Brun of the Comtesse Kegenk:

More sculpture around town:


At the Augustins Museum, Jorge Pardo “reimagined” the museums extensive collection of 12th century capitols for the art festival. I must say, it was well done:

The museum features lots of paintings and sculptures from earlier periods:

There were a couple of rooms with Toulouse Lautrec:

Femme se frisant by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Conquete de passage by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1896

Berthe Morisot:

 Jeune fille dans un parc by Berthe Morisot, 1888-1893

Toulouse sculptor Alexandre Falguiere (late 19th) had many pieces there:

Nymphe chasseresse by Alexandre Falguiere, vers 1888
La Femme au paon by Alexandre Falguiere, 1890


But these were favorites of Marie's:

Even the Metro stops in Toulouse are artistic but tough to get a good photo:

Before we leave Toulouse, I want to share some of her residents:

Again, this is just a glimpse at the Art Toulouse had to offer. But it was time to move on. We headed north to the Lot River Valley and the Cave at Pech Merle. This is one of the premier locations for prehistoric cave art. These drawings have been dated to the Paleolithic Era, around 20-25,000 years ago. Horses were a favorite subject:

We set up our base at a lovely old stone cottage in the Dordogne region.

From here we traveled to several more caves and explored the beautiful area. This is where Cro-Magnon man was first discovered as well as one of the early discoveries of Neanderthals. There are actually more caves with paintings, but Marie chose the best. First up was Combarelles, which has hundreds of horse drawings lining the walls, but we couldn’t see most of them, as it was pitch black and the guide only showed us a few pieces. Naturally photos weren’t allowed, but we found these images:


Just up the road was Abri de Cap Blanc. The was actually an overhang, so cave folks lived right there while the artists carved larger than life reliefs of horses:

Then there was Grotte Font de Gaume, one of the better known caves in the area.

And Rouffignac. This cave featured an electric tram ride deep into the hillside where we saw many, many drawings. The Mammoth was the featured animal here, but there was a whole menagerie including rhinos painting on the cavernous ceiling:

Finally, there was Cougnac. The tour started in one cave that was filled with stalactites and stalagmites of all sizes.

Then we hiked to another cave where a second tour guide took over to tell us about the paintings there.

There was no predominant animal here, but they had bison, horses and mountain goats. The unusual items were the two paintings of the "wounded man," one with three spears in him and no head or feet, the other with head and seven spears. There were also symbols which are believed to be a communication system. The paintings were from 25,000 years ago, while the markings were from 14,000.

That is all we had planned on the artistic front. Here are a few other highlights of our time in the Dordogne.


We visited Chateau des Milandes, former home of Josephine Baker. Here is an abbreviated version of her story. An African-American from St. Louis, she became famous in Paris as the star of Folies Bergere in 1922. She was also the first African-American woman to star in a major motion picture.

She came back to the US in 1935 and was made the star of Ziegfield Follies, but racism doomed this experiment, so she returned to Paris where she was beloved.

During the War she stored weapons in the chateau and also worked with the French Resistance for which she later received many commendations. She adopted 12 children from all races and nationalities and had private tutors to instruct them in their native languages as well as sending them to the local school. Later she built a theatre and other facilities and had performances in the town. She made a lot of money, but spent it faster. In 1969 she was evicted from the chateau and died in 1975 in her Paris apartment.

There were rooms filled with costumes (including her famous banana skirt, which she wore topless) and walls were covered with photos and memorabilia. It was quite a story. For some reason they also have a bird of prey demonstration outside on the manicured lawns, so we watched the trainer work with hawks, owls, and even an American Bald Eagle.

In France, on the Summer Solstice, they have musical performances all over the country and call it a music festival. Pretty good idea, but the results are mixed. We had six towns on our agenda for the day. First we went to Montpazier.

The name of the group was Los Botarels (pronounced "boot") de Montpazier. And they were wonderful doing dance after dance in the heat. The lead accordionist was obviously the ring-leader as she announced each dance, sang for several, and pounded her sabots on the ground to keep the beat.

At one point she explained the clothing of one of the woman dancers as well as her own which was that of a peasant.

Then Le Coux et Bigaroque. There was only a two-piece band, but the locals wanted to dance:

And lastly, St. Cyprian where there was a variety of entertainments. We caught these dancers:

On a recommendation from our hostess, we traveled to the small town of Les Arques which was home to Ossip Zadkine, a Byelorussia émigré and sculptor. A contemporary of Picasso and Braque, he did much in the Cubist style. There is a whole story about how he served as a stretcher-bearer in WWI and then had to leave France during WWII because of the antisemitism. There were a few sculptures in front of the museum and in the church across the way.

 Les Lotophages by Ossip Zadkine, 1961-62.
 La Grande Prisonniere (La France) by Ossip Zadkine, 1943

Inside his former home we found so much more:

Femme au violon by Ossip Zadkine, 1918
Diane by Ossip Zadkine, 1940


There were paintings by his wife Valentine Prax:

Jeux d'Enfants by Valentine Prax, 1960
 Jeunes filles aux oiseaux by Valentine Prax, c 1953

And a small show, Drawings of the Great War, by his friend, Andre Warnod:

Zadkine split time between Paris and Les Arques and has museums in both places.

Before we leave the Dordogne.  Here are a few more shots:

La Dordogne by Pierre Traverse, 1953 in Le Buisson de Cadouin

We drove straight west to Bordeaux. On the way we stopped at the Chateau de Monbazillac as we were told there was Art, as well as wine. We preferred the Art.

There was an exhibition by contemporary artist Phillipe Clemenceau in one room:

In another were drawings by SEM, otherwise known as George Goursat, who was a cartoonist from 1863 to 1934. We found the illustrations clever and well done. Even though he had plenty of money of his own, he regularly lampooned the wealthy, powerful, and stylish.

Another room had memorabilia of Jean Mounet-Sully, an actor who was a friend (and lover) of the famous Sarah Bernhardt. This is the view from the chateau:

After touring the chateau, we tasted the wines and didn’t like any of them. So we continued on to Bordeaux.

Along the way we saw a yard filled with primitive sculptures:

Though we went to Bordeaux for the wine festival, we found an impressive amount of Art there:

Just before we arrived there were sculptures by Jaume Plensa all over the city, but only this one now:

Sanna by Jaume Plensa, 2013

We found Ossip Zadkine:

novelist Francois Mauriac by Ossip Zadkine

And this cryptic message:

The city was adorned with countless “mascarones”:

As part of the wine festival, there was a special exhibition at the Aquitaine Museum called Chicano Dreams.  It was the personal collection of Cheech Marin. We just happened to get there for the opening and saw Cheech and his wife Natasha (in blue):

A few of the artists were on hand as well:

 Melanie Cervantes
by Melanie Cervantes, 2013
Margaret Garcia
Jeanine at 39, Mother of Twins by Margaret Garcia, 2000

It was an interesting show:

Blue Dog and Piwi by Gilbert Lujan, 1990
 Nasty Nez by Carlos Donjuan, 2009


Then we went to the Musee des Beaux Arts.

We found a Zadkine:

Femme accroupie by Ossip Zadkine, 1936

As well as Renoirs, Cassat, Morrisot, Millet, Alechinsky, Soutine, Redon, and a local artist named Andre Lhote:

Baigneuses by Andre Lhote, 1935
Marin a l'accordeon by Andre Lhote, 1920-25

They have this painting by George Achille-Fould of the artist Rosa Bonheur.

 Rosa Bonheur dans son atelier by George Achille-Fould, 1893

Notice the unfinished painting on the left? They had that painting too. The last one Bonheur ever painted.

 La Foulaison du ble en Camargue by Rosa Bonheur, 1864-99


The Contemporary Art Museum was in an old warehouse, and had an exhibition by Los Angeles artist, Aaron Curry, called Bad Brain:

 Skeletal Lightening-Suck My Void by Aaron Curry, 2008


And a few other displays:

Now a visit to the wine festival, spread along the banks of the Garonne River.

There was Art at the wine festival also, highlighted by a grove of wine bottles on which several artists were busy painting:

There was also an extraordinary work done with wine corks, in the shape of a cork:

Then there was the light show. Shown on the over 4,000 sq meters of the Palais de la Borse:

This was followed by the Columbian entry in the International Pyrotechnics competition.

There were great classes.  Oh, we didn't understand what was being said, but we got lots more tastes:

 And a few more scenes from Bordeaux:

Francisco Goya in Place du Chapelet-Church of Notre Dame where his funeral was held in 1828.
The Blue Lion by Xavier Veilhan, 2005