There was a seminal moment at the start of the last decade when I ended a fitful but long search for Le Minotaur, the house in Provence where Pablo Picasso lived, worked and died. I have had a life long interest in Picasso – I guess almost an obsession. This stems from my days at art-college and one of my own tutor’s obsessions. I guess it’s not really Picasso’s work… I’d rather sit for hours in front of a Rothko than a Picasso…but the amazingly complex make-up of the man.
I remember distinctly the news broadcasts in 1973 when Picasso died and a shot of him sweeping down the drive of Le Minotaur many years before in his Hispano Suiza. I have no idea what that occasion had been, but all the news channels used the same shot in announcing the story of his death. I worked in Cannes each year for a short time for several years and also visited that part of the world regularly on holiday with my family. And during those times I wandered around casually trying to find Le Minotaur.
Then one day a final piece of detective work led me to that same driveway at Le Minotaur - overgrown, tangled and with grand iron gates which had been chained up since the great man died. I stood there and cried with emotion. The water lilies in MOMA, the Rothko’s in Tate Modern, the sun shining into Mackintosh’s garden room at Hill House. A handful of others have moved me to tears. Anyone who loves art and the context of art will understand that. And another favourite place is the terrace at l’Hotel des Deux Rocs in nearby Seillans, where Picasso used to sit and drink and exchange ideas with Max Ernst, who lived in the village.
I think that their spirits are there still.