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07/09/2020 (archive)



In the heart of the Dolce Vita Tropezienne of the 60s and 70s, the artist Jacques Cordier created his greatest works, lulled by the village's gentle way of life and his happiness with his wife, the young and beautiful Simone, who watched over the family home at the Hôtel de la Ponche.

Since his early childhood, Jacques Cordier lived only for painting. A hard worker, rather shy and secretive, he agreed to follow the courses of drawing professorship of the city of Paris, to reassure his parents. At the dawn of the fifties, he accompanied his father, a butler, for the summer season in Saint-Tropez and discovered the extraordinary light with wonder.

In this small seaside village frequented by a group of young intellectuals and bohemian artists from Saint-Germain-des-Près, Jacques painted instinctively. His first works are Indian inks that he creates at la Ponche and the Rue de la Miséricorde "they reflect his solid training as a draughtsman and were his first successes... We can't help but draw a parallel with Bernard Buffet's works... They both started around the same time, without knowing each other, by hanging their works in the capital's bars and restaurants...

They would meet a few years later in Saint-Tropez," explains Jean-Paul Monery, chief curator of heritage and a specialist in the artist's work.

Nous ne pouvons pas nous empêcher de faire un parallèle avec les oeuvres de Bernard Buffet, bien entendu… Tous les deux commencent à peu près à la même époque, sans se connaître, en accrochant leurs oeuvres dans les bars et les restaurants de la capitale… Ils se rencontreront quelques années plus tard à Saint-Tropez » explique Jean-Paul Monery, conservateur en chef du patrimoine et spécialiste de l’artiste.

Well being and colour in Saint-Tropez

In the early sixties, Jacques Cordier met Simone Barbier (née Armando) in Saint-Tropez. It was love at first sight, as she poetically recounts in her book "Hôtel de la Ponche un autre regard sur Saint- Tropez". A few months later, she responded to the invitation of the man she had fallen in love with and discovered the Montmartre studio, "I found my Saint-Tropez in the drawing boxes of the man I loved" she says with emotion.

The wedding was celebrated in the small church of Notre Dame de l'Assomption on March 26th 1966 "on my uncle Joseph's fishing boat..."

continued the woman who, for less than ten years, shared "a dream life" with her husband, between the capital and the pretty house Les Bruyères, just a few steps from the Place des Lices and the Citadelle, Jacques' studio naturally took its place "under the vast sunny terrace" of the couple's home.


Colors of Saint-Tropez

Gone away are the dark hues and "muted tones" of the early paintings of the landscapes of Sologne or the ports of Le Havre as Jean-Paul Monery notes. Happy in St. Tropez, Jacques paints watercolours which lead him to much more fluid paintings, he discovers light, the landscapes blend into the colours, there is a feeling of great sweetness. The artist's paintings are exhibited in the Georges Barry gallery on the port and in the Ponche gallery, where Simone welcomes "collectors, hotel guests, holidaymakers and friends passing by after the beach, the atmosphere was very warm and those times were wonderful".

Using the technique of knife painting, "Cordier gave his colours a greater intensity... The notes of ochre, yellow and red compete with the whites and blues of the canvas to give birth to a light that brings emotion to the eye and the heart. Whether it is the bouquets so often painted or the scenes of beaches, squares or harbours, there is always an immense love of life in Cordier.

Everything vibrates, lives, and breathes..." explains Jean-Paul Monery.

How can we not dream in front of "La plage" (1968) or "Les pointus" (1969), which remind us of our eternal Saint-Tropez? "During the 1970s, Cordier worked mainly with watercolours and if he painted oils, they were treated as such, fluid, light, transparent. Watercolour became his best language, the one capable of delivering, with this limpid yet faded fluidity, the dreamlike moments" continues Jean-Paul Monery.


On December 12, 1975, a car accident stole Jacques Cordier's life and broke Simone's heart. "Only his paintings, brought me back to life.

I suddenly became aware, months after the accident, that Jacques' projects should continue to exist..." concludes Simone, who has organized several exhibitions around the world. A collection of 500 works Under the impulse of collectors, Jacques Cordier's works are present all over the world.

"Mr. Monery and I are in the process of developing a catalogue raisonné of his works and contacting the collectors, so that we may organize exhibitions" confides Simone Duckstein who cultivates her memories of Jacques by exhibiting his poetic works on the walls of the secret, mythical Hôtel de la Ponche.



Hôtel de la Ponche,
Un autre regard sur Saint-Tropez
Éditions du Cherche Midi 2008




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