On February 21, 2017 we took the niece to the little city of Céret. This sleepy little hamlet of a city is nestled in the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains. Accessible on the 1€ bus and “only” a 90-minute ride from Argeles-sur-Mer, this was our second trip to this amazing little city.
We arrived a bit early, so while waiting for the museum to open we found a little cafe next door called Le Bleu Citron (The Blue Lemon). We had coffee and just hung out watching groups of school kids prepare for their visit to the museum. The owner looked rather like a California 1960s hippy type, though I imagine that there are more than few characters in a town known as an artists hangout!
Known for it’s former inhabitants, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Chaim Soutine, Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, and Miró, to name just a few. These artists, along with a few more friends, left a lasting legacy in Céret in the form of the Musée d’Art Moderne, affectionately known as the Picasso Museum. The museum shows the intense relationship between these artists and the city of Céret. The collection ranges from Cubism to the School of Paris to Nouveau réalisme to local modern artists. Many of the Picasso’s in the museum’s collection were painted in the city as a donation for the museum.
Our niece, Etta, took a real liking to the works of Picasso, from paintings to ceramics, she really enjoyed her visit.
I was pleasantly surprised to find one by Marc Chagall. We waited nearly 20 minutes for the group of local students to finish in the gallery with the Chagall, but it was very much worth the wait for the opportunity to have it all to ourselves for a few minutes. Marc Chagall is my all-time favorite artist!
In addition to a few artist’s we expected to see were two that I discovered for the first time. One was Pierre Brune the other Auguste Herbin. Brune lived in Céret later in life until his death, Herbin spent time there and at his Paris home. Brune is well known for his landscape, portraits and still life, my favorites were the landscapes. He leans towards Cubism, but maintains enough distance from true Cubism which makes his work quite interesting. The works by Herbin in the museum are full Cubist, but what I liked most about them was the way he used color. After returning home, I looked him up online and found many other works, but I must be honest and say that the pieces in the museum in Céret are much more beautiful that the ones I found online.
After we saw the permanent collection we finished walking through the remainder of the current installation by Alain Clement. His work was really fascinating. Between the paintings, mobiles and sculptures it was like watching an idea come to life. He uses broad ribbons of color that reminded me of gymnists with ribbons. All flowing and colorful, full of life and movement. Though the niece felt indifferent at first, by the time we left the museum she had developed a new sense of what modern art means. We went from talking about the paintings as if they were still life versions of intestines to seeing the real beauty of the color and movement of the pieces. Though her absolute favorite was the ceramic work of Picasso.
Once we finished at the museum, we headed for lunch at Le Grand Cafe, where else! Though there are plenty of restaurants in Céret, when one has spent the day at the Musée d’Art Moderne, one must dine at the restaurant where Pierre Brune, Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso and so many more 20th century artists hung out! We all had the bruschetta, which was wonderful and filling, but mostly we just enjoyed sitting in the same place where such legends hung out, sitting outside in the same place and seeing the same view of that tree-lined street that shows up often in the works of the artists who lived and worked there.