Dispatch from abroad: Dr. Andria Derstine, the AMAM’s Curator of Collections and Curator of European & American Art, is spending the month of March as a Brown Foundation Fellow at the Dora Maar House, in Ménerbes, France.
The fellowship program is run by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, through the generosity of the house’s owner. Andria is working on a project related to the AMAM’s 24 works of art – primarily by School of Paris artists such as Picasso, Modigliani, Miró, Chagall and others, including 7 works by Dubuffet – that were donated to the AMAM by Enid and Joseph Bissett.
But she has also found time to enjoy the beauty of Provence in late winter, and to learn more about Dora Maar, Picasso’s muse and mistress from 1936-43. After Picasso left Dora, having met Françoise Gilot, he purchased the house in Ménerbes for her. She spent time there, usually summers, from the mid-1940s until shortly before her death in 1997 in Paris; the room that was formerly her studio is now elegantly appointed and houses a piano. Picasso, however, stayed there himself, with Gilot, in the summer of 1946…something that Gilot in her memoirs recalled as distasteful both to herself, and no doubt to Dora.
Many other artists, art historians and art dealers have made Ménerbes their home, including Nicolas de Staël, John Rewald, and the Gimpel family (the AMAM’s painting by Chardin came through art dealer René Gimpel), and the town continues to attract artists and writers – thanks in no small part to the presence of the Dora Maar House and its wonderful fellowship program.