Things to do Languedoc: Collioure Art trail

collioure art trail500Collioure has over the past 150 years, been home to an immpressive array of artistic talent. Collioure was originally just a relatively poor fishing village, eeking out a living from the Anchovy trade. However, in the early 20th Century, Collioure became home to an important new art movement "Fauvism", with many artists attracted by Collioure's "special light". It is true, every time I have ever visited Collioure it has always been bright and sunny. But it is a special kind of hazy sunlight that reflects back up from the shallow bay. The basis of the Fauvist paintings, was a strong use of colours, whilst still exhibiting elements of the Impressionism painting style. Early Fauvist painters such as Matisse, Derain, Dufy and Rennie McIntosh, were later joined by Picasso, Georges Braque and Maillol in the town.

Collioure art trail

Today, art is still an important activity in Collioure. With over thirty galleries and many resident artists still working in and around the town, Collioure is right to proclaim itself the "Town of Artists". If you are an art lover, what makes Collioure such a great place to visit is that the locations of many of the famous paintings of the town, are clearly marked out on a special art trail. You can gaze through empty picture frames and see the same view as Matisse or Derain or Raoul Dufy painted over 100 years ago.




Collioure Museum of Modern Art 

collioure art museumThe Museum of Modern Art in Collioure was founded by Jean Peske in 1930. The Museum is houses in the beautiful Villa Pams, on the southern edge of the town. The museum features work by Matisse, Derain, and Maillol. The Museum also has many visiting exhibitions and gives over a large amount of space to contemporary artists. Indeed, since 1990 the winners of the biennial "Prix Collioure" have been invited to Collioure to work in the museum's studio for one year. A large exhibition marks the end of the year. When they leave, the artists give one of their creations to the museum. For more information about the Museum of Modern Art in Collioure, please visit the Collioure Modern art museum.







Matisse and Derain art trail 

collioure derainIn 1905 Henri Matisse and Andre Derain arrived in Collioure.  Around the town, you will now find over twenty reproductions of their work, displayed close to wherethe artists perched their easels. You will also find metal picture frames mounted on stilts, through which you can also 'frame' the scene that these painters saw. It is quite an ingenious idea and our 3 boys love to look at the the view and then compare it to the painting beside it. Matisse came to Collioure because he was looking to escape the Parisian summer and he needed a cheap residence for his wife, two little boys and his older daughter (by a former mistress). At the time, the Cote Vermeille was bankrupt. Its wine industry had been ravaged by disease in the vines and its fishing business was collapsing. It is surprising that Colioure owes its chic resort status, precisely because Matisse came here to find cheap lodgings in the poverty stricken town. It is one of those ironies of history.






Collioure's "special light"

When he arrived in Collioure, Matisse marvelled at the "bright Mediterranean colors and above all by the quality of the light. The light is different".The Cote Vermeille is the only east-facing coast of France. The Pyrenees plunge dramatically down into the Mediterranean. The Mediterranean has almost no tides, so the sun rises over deep blue, clear water with no surf to break the patterns. Also the clouds are pushed out far to sea by the strong Roussillon winds, so the sunlight is reflected mainly off the Medeterranean waters and the dark green and red colours of the Pyrenees. Andre Derain, Matisse's friend and colleague during their summer in Collioure, commented that "Collioure has no shadows."


Antonio Machado

collioure picassoThe great Spanish poet Antonio Machado, born in Seville in 1875, was an active supporter of the republican Government in Spain during the mid-thirties. In 1939, he left Barcelona with his family to escape Franco's dictatorship and chose to live in Collioure as exile. He led a secluded life in "Casa Quintana" where he died on February 22, 1939. His mother died 3 days later. Machado has become symbolic of the thousands of Spaniards and Catalans that chose exile in Languedoc. He is buried under a plain tombstone in the old cemetery. Since 1977, the "Antonio Machado Fundation" honors his memory by inviting entries in an international poetry competition every February. Throughout the town there are seminars, symposiums, lectures, castillan dance festivals, and exhibitions. Picasso's poster "Homage to Antonio Machado" is displayed in Collioure's Musee d'Art Moderne.

There is a special Foundation in Collioure, set up to honour Machado's work and legacy. For more information please visit: Foundation Antonio Machado.



Search Go Languedoc

Related items

South France places to visit: Musee de l...
South France places to visit: Musee de l... I reckon that Musee de l'Arles Antique,  Arles' archeology museum, is one of the best modern buildings I have seen. It was designed by Henri Ciriani and looks brilliant. It is a shame the inside ... 1934 views Sun, 07 Mar 2021
Best Languedoc museums: Villa Loupian
Best Languedoc museums: Villa Loupian The excellent Villa Loupian Site Gallo-Romain museum of a Roman settlement in Languedoc provides an excellent day out for you and the children. This excellent little museum of a Roman settle... 1391 views Tue, 16 Mar 2021
Things to do in Languedoc region: Musee ...
Things to do in Languedoc region: Musee ... One of the most interesting Art Museums in Southern France is Musee Riguad in Perpignan. This old 17th century Palace, was originally the workshop of the artist Hyacinthe Rigaud, a favourite of the co... 1610 views Fri, 19 Mar 2021
Van Gogh in Arles
Van Gogh in Arles In 1888 van Gogh left Paris for Provence. Here, in collaboration with Paul Gaugin he painted some of his most impressive works. It was also the scene of his famous "ear cutting" act and his decline in... 3504 views Sun, 21 Mar 2021
Serignan art museum
Serignan art museum The little Languedoc coastal town of Serignan, just south of Beziers, is home to not only a modern art gallery, but also a popular contemporary theatre. In the centre of Serignan, a small hard working... 1260 views Thu, 11 Mar 2021