From the Fine Art Connoisseur May/June 2020 Editor’s Note:
A few weeks ago, I was happily reminded of two special places we visited last October during Fine Art Connoisseur’s tour of Provence and the French Riviera.
I was glad to learn that “Van Gogh and the Olive Groves” is being organized by the Dallas Museum of Art and Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum. This will be the first exhibition dedicated to the series of 15 paintings of olive trees that Vincent Van Gogh created in 1889 while he was a patient at the asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.
Our jolly group of art lovers visited that still-functioning facility, Saint-Paul de Mausole, and we found it quite touching to see where this troubled genius sought refuge after an especially severe psychotic episode. We were especially moved to walk through the lush olive grove that still grows nearby. The dark, writhing limbs of olive trees are always fascinating to admire, but seeing these particular ones shed new light on Van Gogh’s famous pictures, which possess their own writhing energy.
To open in Amsterdam in June 2021, then in Dallas that October, the new exhibition will reunite Vincent’s 15 paintings for the first time while highlighting the new discoveries about techniques and materials that have emerged during this project’s multi-year collaborative research phase. I look forward to seeing it next year.
I was further delighted to learn that, this May, New Vessel Press will publish the novel Villa of Delirium, written by Adrien Goetz, who teaches art history at the Sorbonne in Paris. The house in the book’s title is the unforgettable Villa Kérylos, which our Fine Art Connoisseur group visited last October in Beaulieu sur Mer, a chic seaside enclave east of Nice on the French Riviera.
Designed and constructed by the wealthy Parisian archeologist Théodore Salomon von Reinach, this fabulous summer retreat replicates an ancient Greek palace, but with all the modern conveniences money could buy in the early 1900s.
The novel’s narrator calls the house “an act of delirium; above all, an optimistic act, proof that one could reset time as one could reset a clock and resist the outside world.” That imagined narrator is the son of a servant from a nearby mansion; adopted by the Reinachs, he survives the Nazis’ confiscation of the villa and murder of several Reinach grandchildren. Goetz’s 320-page book has been translated from the French by Natasha Lehrer and will intrigue even those who have not yet visited the Villa Kérylos.
I remain grateful for the memorable adventures offered during Fine Art Connoisseur’s 10 previous trips to Europe, and now I am looking forward to the autumn of 2021, when we will explore Vienna, Berlin, and Dresden.