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ceramic tradition

The technical know-how in Vallauris has attracted a great many artists that have come to learn more about the art of pottery making. Two such artists firmly placed the name of Vallauris on the map: Picasso and, more recently, Jean Marais. Find out more about them and their work in Vallauris.

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Though Picasso departed this world in 1973, his mark is forever engraved in the emotional and cultural memory of the Côte d’Azur where visits to Vallauris Golfe-Juan, Antibes and Mougins are a must if you want to learn more about his work.

  • In 1948, Picasso came to live in Vallauris where he stayed until 1955. During his time here, he created a great many sculptures and paintings including War and Peace, which was one of the major artworks of the period. He also developed a fascination with the two techniques of ceramics and linocuts.
  • It was in 1946, on a visit to the annual exhibition by the potters of Vallauris, that by chance he met Suzanne and Georges Ramié, who owned a ceramics factory – the Madoura workshop – where Picasso, who was keen to try something new, made his first foray into ceramics and then decided to throw himself into the activity, which offered him new creative horizons: the malleability of the clay and the magic of the firing process which created exploding columns of enamel and the brilliance of the glazes were what drew him to the craft.
  • His approach was somewhat unorthodox. Picasso, as a sculptor, fashioned fauna and nymphs in the glaze, melted the clay like one melts bronze, and tirelessly decorated plates and dishes with his favourite subjects (bullfights, women, owls, goats, etc). He also used the unlikeliest of bases (fragments of casserole dishes, kiln bits and broken bricks), invented white paste, which is ceramic that has not been glazed and decorated with pieces in relief. Picasso never considered ceramics as a lesser art form.
  • Over a period of twenty years he produced about four thousand original pieces. According to his wishes, several copies were produced of some of his pieces and Madoura had the exclusive rights to their production. Having said this, Picasso wanted these copies to be used on a daily basis as he once remarked to André Malraux: “I have made some plates that we can eat off”.
  • Another technique that particularly fascinated him was the linocut, something he practised with the printer Hidalgo Arnera. His first works were used to make posters to advertise the bull fights and ceramic exhibitions in the town. He quickly turned it into a form of expression by placing emphasis on colour.

Picasso and Vallauris today, unforgettable memories

As freeman of the town, Picasso greatly contributed to the renaissance of the Vallauris pottery industry in the 1950s, this mythical golden age and time when everyone was a potter.
Many inhabitants still evoke his presence and that of his contemporaries (Françoise Gilot and her children Claude and Paloma, then Jacqueline Roque, his last partner that he married amid the greatest secrecy at Vallauris town hall in 1961), the bullfights, exhibitions and visits by all kinds of famous people.

Works of art and places

  • At The National Picasso Museum "War and Peace"
    In 1952, in the castle’s chapel Picasso produced two compositions of monumental proportions (over 100 m2) on hardboard panels that mirrored the curvature of the vaulting. After Guernica in 1937 and Slaughter in Korea in 1951, War and Peace was for Picasso the final manifestation of his commitment to peace, something that was particularly apparent during the congresses organised by the Communist Party for which he designed the Dove, which went on to be reproduced around the world.

War which stands on an old tank, pulled along by portentous horses, unleashes its trail of evil before being stopped by Justice armed with a shield decorated with a dove.

Peace contains a tightrope walker as a symbol of the fragile nature of peace, a Pegasus, a dancing group of young girls and, under an orange tree, a family calmly and happily enjoying themselves in the sunshine.

  • André Villers met Picasso in 1953
    Picasso gave him his first ‘proper’ camera: he later liked to say how it was thanks to him he became interested in photography. Picasso did not pose for Villers, which enhanced the intimacy of his pictures that were takenin an impromptu manner so as to capture the spontaneity of Picasso’s gestures and facial expressions. Villers did not photograph the myth that is Picasso, but the man and the artist in his daily life

One of the wings of the museum houses various works by Picasso: linocuts, original ceramic pieces and copies, photographs of André Villers.

National Picasso Museum "War and Peace"
Place de la Libération - Tél. 04 93 64 71 83
Open from 10.00 to 12.15 and from 2.00 to 5.00 (till 6.00 from 15 june to 15 september).
Closed on Tuesdays and Bank Holidays. Price : 3,25 €

  • Man with a sheep

>This bronze statue, created in 1943 and donated to the town in 1949 stands in the place de l’église.
The sculpture, of which two other copies were made (one in Philadelphia in the USA and the other in the Picasso Museum in Paris), is one of the rare statues the artist created for a public place.
Picasso wanted children to be able to climb all over this work, a wish that is fully realised today.

Don’t miss…“Vallauris celebrates Picasso” an important event taking place each year in July

Balnear city of French riviera and one hundred potters town toursim town council

Hôtel de Ville - Vallauris
Place Jacques Cavasse
Tél. 04 93 64 24 24

Mairie Annexe - Golfe-Juan
Avenue Aimé Berger
Tél. 04 93 63 86 93

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