As we begin to approach the work-heavy, exciting but chaotic final days of the program, the students have probably already forgotten about their last life-changing excursion to Aix-en-Provence, but we have not!
We journeyed down south for a full-day trip in the polished (in Joey’s words), historic city of Aix, known for being the home of Paul Cezanne, and one can see their pride on every single street corner and storefront, with Rue de Cezanne and the Paul Hotel providing just two examples. Cezanne was one of the most infamous artists in all of art history - he lived during the second half of the 19th century going into the 20th, and laid the foundations for all of 20th century art. The myriad of art movements and breakthroughs that exploded out of the 20th century all owe their thanks to this man.
Not only is Cezanne now revered by the people of Aix, but all people from around the world, like us, can admire and remember his work by visiting his studio. Our students had the opportunity to see the space in which he painted, sketch his still life objects that one can recognize from his paintings, and bask in the light of his ginormous north light window (north light provides even light all day, which is important for artists) that covers an entire wall of the space.
We next walked down into the city center of Aix, stopping by a beautiful sculpture garden, in search of lunch, shopping (especially at a huge art store that offers everything imaginable for a young artist!), gorgeous architecture to sketch, and ice cream to battle the heat. Everyone had three hours of free time before reconvening for a visit to the Musée Granet, featuring an exhibition of Fabienne Verdier’s work entitled “Sur les Terres de Cézanne”.
Although she is French, born and raised, Verdier spent considerable time in China exploring the tradition and technique of Chinese painting with ink and brush. For this collection, she combined her study of this style with her French heritage, going out into the landscape where Cezanne painted to create giant plein air minimalist masterpieces with her massive horsehair brushes and thick acrylic paint. And best yet, we were all beside ourselves when Fabienne Verdier was there, in the flesh, in the last room of her exhibition! A few of our students had the opportunity to speak with her about her work and came back with eyes wide and feelings elated.
We now have just our final presentations and the end of program banquet remaining—stay tuned!