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Colonizing the Côte d'Azur: Neo-Impressionism, Anarcho-Communism and the Tropical Terre Libre of the Maures, c.1892-1908

Author(s): Woloshyn, Tania

Journal: RIHA Journal
ISSN 2190-3328

Start page: 0045;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: neo-impressionism | the Maures | Côte d'Azur | artist colony | anarcho-communism Melanesia | Jean Grave | Mabel Holland Thomas | sunlight

This article explores neo-impressionist representations of the Maures region (Hyères-St Raphaël) of the Côte d'Azur as an ideal space of anarcho-communist liberty or, to borrow from Jean Grave's Terre Libre: Les Pionniers (1908), a "free land." In doing so it questions art-historical literature of such images as utopian, with its implication of geographic non-specificity, through analyses of anarcho-communist and geographical texts and images. Tropical markers, especially palm trees, feature in Grave's vision of a "free land," corresponding to perceptions by contemporaneous artists, tourists and geographers of the exotic, island-like geography of the Maures. The article argues that, for Henri-Edmond Cross, Paul Signac and Théo van Rysselberghe, the Maures landscape was imaged and imagined as a sunlit terre libreon home soil, naturally suited to these self-styled pioneers.
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