A pink taxi

A pink taxi

August 15, 2010

Walking Flower

My first contact with Fernand Leger was his large ceramic mural at Colombe d'Or Restaurant in Saint Paul de Vence. I discovered it at the time of panoramic cameras: the ones that allowed for panoramic photos that required their own albums. I would ask my father to take a photo of me and the mural every year. At first I was alone but I began holding a new born, who became one and two and that was the end of panoramic cameras.....

Then one summer, perhaps 2002 or 2003, Credit Suisse bank sponsored a Leger exhibit with ceramics only. A two meter high walking flower stood by the tram road that led to University of Geneva. I had seen it at Biot at the Fernand Leger museum. Here in Geneva, I had the luxury of spending more time examining the works. There also was a very large Colombe d'Or pannel, measuring about 6x3meters.

Some of these ceramics were for sale. I looked closer at the price quotes and authenticity certificates and noticed a name: Brice. The artisan-ceramist who had worked with Leger was called Brice and his son had been his apprentice.

Without any further ado, no sooner had I arrived in the South of France that I took the white pages, went to Biot, where I supposed he would live since it happens to be the village of ceramics and looked up the name of Brice. It wasn't long before I was speaking to the man in question.

He gave me his address in Biot and I went with my family, extended and all, to visit him. He lived in an alley called "Allee des Roses". We made so many expensive pilgrames to him over three to four summers. He lived in a small village home with his wife. A dozen of Leger ceramics hung on the wall. We purchased them, one at a time, always bargaining. During these bargaining sessions, he spoke to us about Leger, showed us pictures. My sister and brother in law also bought. My parents did too.

Transporting these breakables was another story. Panels were easier than three dimensional pieces. The walking flower, in its smaller size, was the statuette in question. My parents and sister and I have three of the seven limited editions. Mine traveled by car. When it arrived in Geneva, I noticed one of its petals had broken off. How I cried!

I called Brice. By now, we were good acquaintances and we had mutual sympathy for each other. He was so saddened by my story that he told me to bring it back the following summer and he would replace it with the artist proof. He also told me to hurry because he had cancer and his days were counted.

Bless his soul, Brice died the summer next. I will always remember my walks up l'Allee des Roses in Biot. Stories for me to keep for my children.


  1. Brice made us appreciate the work of Leger. he represented an earlier period when artists worked through simple methods, like apprentices without fancy agents and the interventions of auction houses...for him to replace a broken petal was amazing to us...imagine asking one of the real kool galleries to do the same thing....they will laugh you out of their door....

  2. Getting to the village of Biot was my struggle getting a minivan along the winding narrow roads,the van full to the brim with adults and their crawling children.Unloading the passengers was the easier problem,finding a parking space was almost impossible,unless you descend 2kms downhill.
    Brice a short fellow,bespectacled with shaggy hair and beard was a pleasant man.Whenever we squeezed into his small home,there was an old stern lady sitting next room,not involved with the visitors or their haggling that was taking place about the various beautiful pieces of Leger porcelain.
    One day,I wanted to be social,so I told the lady with my broken French:sorry we are always tiring your son!The lady kept her head in her paper,and drily answered that her husband will be OK!This is where my children talk about my Lary David's enthusiasim and how I should curb my enthusiasm!
    During our many visits to Brice,we became friends,and felt sorrow when he departed.We still visit Leger's Muse in Biot,and see the pictures of the young Brice by his father and the famous artist.

  3. Your post brings back a flood of memories...from my first trip to the south of france as a married man which was the summer of our first leger purchase, to the annual returns to brice each summer until he passed away. You realize how much part of our life leger has become when our 4 year old son notices a leger at a museum and says "hey that is like our leger at home". It is your persistence in contacting brice that has brought leger into our home and the lives of our children and for that we are all thankful