Artists Inspired by ProvenceInspireKeith Van Sickle

Christian Detaux The Evolution of a Provençal Artist

Life and Art

Christian Detaux had finished his long career in the automotive industry, where he led a team of 200 engineers and was itching to go back to his first love: art. As a young man, he had planned to pursue a career as an artist, enrolling in the prestigious Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, until life intervened. He needed to work, to have an income, to support a family, and his artistic dreams were deferred.

Starting with a shoe

But newly retired, Detaux could now revisit those long-ago dreams. After moving to Provence, he looked for ways to begin. He liked to work with his hands and wanted to try carving stone, like the classical sculptors. He found a soft material, to begin with, aerated concrete and picked a model that would sit still as long as he needed: one of his shoes. His first try was a success.

Christian Detaux Provençal Artist Chaussure

From there Detaux moved on to progressively harder stones, from local quarries, and eventually all the way up to the famous Carrera marble.

Christian Detaux Provençal Artist Beatrice

New Materials

Having mastered stone, and always wanting to try new things, Detaux began creating metal frames and then covering them with adhesives and painting. This flexible medium gave him more artistic freedom than did stone. He was inspired by some of his favourite artists, like Keith Haring and Niki de Saint Phalle.

Christian Detaux Liberté Sculpture

Christian Detaux Provençal Artist Serena

After working with these metal frames, Detaux became intrigued by the possibility of steel sculptures. He started small, making figures and faces, even a few chickens for fun.

Christian Detaux Provencal Artist Metal Chickens

Then he went big, really big. His recent projects have been nothing short of monumental, like this full-sized horse—it’s so lifelike you feel like you can saddle up. It is remarkable how Detaux takes a material as hard as steel and makes it supple and flowing.

Christian Detaux Provençal Artist Face

And just this month, Detaux finished a sculpture of Don Quixote. He’s nearly seven feet tall, with limbs that move, and looks ready to defend his beloved Dulcinea.

Christian Detaux Don Quixote

What’s next for the talented Christian Detaux? He’s mulling the possibilities, but we can be sure it will something interesting and beautiful!

Christian Detaux Metal Horse

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

Christian Detaux Metal Horse

Photo credits: the photos were provided by and published with the permission of Christian Detaux and Keith Van Sickle.

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Keith Van Sickle

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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