Artists Inspired by ProvenceInspireKeith Van Sickle

Meeting the Artists of Le Thor Sculptor Christian Detaux

Christian Detaux always wanted to be an artist.  For as long as he can remember, he’s been drawing and painting and shaping forms.

Christian Detaux Beatrice of Provence inpierre de Lens

At the age of 16, Detaux applied to the prestigious “Ecole des Beaux Arts” in Paris, ready to embark on a career as an artist.  But then he read a biography of the great Italian painter Amedeo Modigliani, who lived a life of poverty.

It made Detaux realize that most artists, and even some famous ones, have a hard time making a living.  So, wanting to someday support a family, he reluctantly set aside his brushes and pens and embarked on a new path.

After a distinguished stint in the army, where he served in the honor guard at Charles de Gaulle’s funeral, Detaux began a career in engineering.  He worked for a large automobile company and eventually rose to the level of project director, leading a group of 200 engineers that designed automobile factories around the world.

During a downturn in his company’s business ten years ago, Detaux was offered early retirement and leaped at the chance.  He and his wife left Paris for the warmer weather of Provence, settling in the small town of Le Thor, near L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue.  There, Detaux was finally able to pursue his artistic dreams.

One of the things Detaux enjoyed most during his time in the automobile business was working with the cars – their shapes and forms, their tactile sense.  So rather than painting or drawing, he chose sculpture as a métier, allowing him to continue enjoying that sense of form and touch.

But where to begin?  He bought some books that explained materials, tools and methods, and also found a surprising number of helpful videos on YouTube.  Quite a change from the old days of artists apprenticing for years under a Master!Christine Detaux The Shoe in aerated concrete

Detaux’s first work was carved from a block of aerated concrete, a soft material that is easy to sculpt. “The Shoe” was the result, a simple work but one that gave him confidence to continue on his path.

Christian Detaux Frederic Mistral in pierre de Lens

hristian Detaux Venus of the Sea in mixed media

Detaux moved on to progressively harder stone.  First was pierre tendre, a relatively soft stone from a quarry near Oppede le Vieux in the Luberon.  Then the harder pierre de Lens from Nîmes.  Finally, Carrara marble, the beautiful white stone favored by Michelangelo and other great sculptors.

Christian Detaux Amour Love in Carrera marble

Inspired by artists like Niki de Saint Phalle, Detaux has recently begun creating art using metal frames covered by plaster and different kinds of adhesives.  These materials are more flexibility than stone and allow him more freedom in his artistic expression.

Christian Detaux Serena

Keith Haring, another favorite artist, inspires the piece he is currently working on.

Christian Detaux Liberte Freedom in paper and resin over metal frame

Detaux has no shortage of ideas – future plans include frescoes and monumental works made of steel.

You can see more of Detaux’s art on Pinterest (Christian Detaux) or Twitter (@cdetaux)  For more information, or to arrange a private viewing, he can be reached at Tel: +33 (0)6 31 69 23 62.


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Keith Van Sickle

Keith and Val Van Sickle made their first trip to Provence decades ago, and it was love at first sight. After that, they came back every year until 2008, when they began a part-time life there, splitting their time between Provence and California.

Over the years, they’ve travelled all over Provence, seeing sights both well-known and obscure. Their French friends have introduced them to favourite restaurants and wineries and picnic spots and taught them funny local expressions (not all for polite company).

Keith now shares this local knowledge in his new book, An Insider’s Guide to Provence. Packed with the Van Sickles’ favourite things to see and do, it’s a must-have for anyone travelling to this glorious corner of France.

Keith previously published two books about the couple's experiences in Provence. One Sip at a Time: Learning to Live in Provence, and Are We French Yet?, both are available from Amazon.

You can see all of Keith’s blog posts at Life in Provence.

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