MYTHS By The Mediterranean With JEAN COCTEAU
Fauns, fish and other fantasies: a poet's love affair with France's Côte d’Azur
10 Jan 2014
I’ve always preferred mythology to history… Mythology is an illusion that becomes reality.
– Jean Cocteau
A lover of myths, it is no surprise that master French poet Jean Cocteau (1889-1963) became enamoured with the Mediterranean. Here, by the sea in the south of France, Jean Cocteau imagined himself to live and breathe alongside the figures and tales of Greek mythology, which were to inspire some of his greatest works such as his 1959 film Le Testament d’Orphée.
Cocteau saw poetry as his lifeblood, propelling him forth to employ multiple vehicles of expression as varied as literature, theatre, drawing, painting, ceramics and film.
During one of his southern escapades, Cocteau made his first visit to the town of Menton in the French Riviera in 1955, soon proclaiming Menton to be ‘the pearl of France‘. It is a fitting tribute, then, for the Musée Jean Cocteau to be located here, boasting the largest collection of his artworks. Set along the sea on the Côte d’Azur, the museum was designed by architect Rudy Ricciotti inspired by Cocteau’s life and work.
The latest exhibition presented at the museum entitled Cocteau, Matisse, Picasso, méditerranéens, sees Cocteau’s art conversing with works by his contemporaries Picasso and Matisse, who were also working on the Côte d’Azur in these post-war years.
Visit www.museecocteaumenton.fr to find out more.
Photography and text by Sophie Pinchetti