2017 marks the 10th anniversary of Joe Downing, an acclaimed American painter’s death. Jo made Ménerbes his home.

Joe Downing (1925-2007) lived in Ménerbes even longer than Eakin. Born in the small town of Horse Cave, Kentucky, he served in Europe during the Second World War and settled in Paris and Ménerbes soon afterwards.

Downing first studied optometry and, after he decided to become an artist, specialised in brilliantly coloured abstract pieces that draw on that training to play with refraction, colour and light. Pictured: Untitled (1973), Musée Unterlinden, Colmar.

Untitled by Joe Downing

He also loved to paint on unusual surfaces such as old doors and windows, ceramic and terracotta tiles and even leather.

Different though their styles were in most other ways, his luminous palette was, like Eakin’s, inspired by Provence, “Some artists paint death and violence – two facts of modern life,” Downing said at the opening of one of his shows. “I paint the sunshine”.

His work – praised by Picasso among others – hangs in galleries around the world, including the Smithsonian in Washington, the Museums of Modern Art in New York and Paris, the National Fine Arts Gallery in Sydney, Australia and the Musée Calvert in Avignon.

You can’t see it in Ménerbes (unless there happens to be a special exhibition on) but Downing is honoured with a tiny garden in his name opposite the Dora Maar House.

Source: www.marvellous-provence.com

Note: During the summer of 2017, there will be an exhibition and homage to Jo Downing at the Ménerbes Maison de la Truffe et du Vin – details to follow.

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