Henri-Edmond Cross, ferryman of modernity

Be that as it may, for this child from the North born in Douai, this landscape bathed in Mediterranean light is an inexhaustible source of inspiration. The exhibition at the Musée de l’Annonciade is thus a way of bringing him back to his land. Everything, in fact, takes place in Saint-Tropez, still a simple fishing village where Cross will settle at the beginning of the twentieth century. Like many others, it is the local light that determines this choice. Or rather the luminosity, which encourages the division of the key and the burst of pure color, the two characteristics of pointillism. This practice, which is also called neo-impressionism, can lead to confusion, as it seems to follow in the footsteps of Monet or Renoir. In reality, this “extension” of impressionist painting is only an appearance. The sensation of a snapshot suggested by the scattered spots of Impressionism, the dynamism made of transitions, passages and chromatic interferences is replaced by a more studied architecture, composed of rigorously placed color “pastilles” often inserted into a geometric frame. However, after soaking up the lesson of modernity from Seurat, the founder of pointillism in 1886, Cross takes side roads, and finds his own mode of expression. On the one hand, he introduces the female nude into his landscapes, but, more importantly, in search of perfect harmony, he discovers the attraction of contrasts, the charm of dissonances. Gradually, he abandons the principle of optical mixing and applies large touches of color. In other words, with Signac, he plays the role of “chromatic passer” with Matisse. The Annonciade project, which focuses on his works directly inspired by the Var landscapes, is completed by a selection of drawings and watercolors presented until September 30 at Villa Théo, in Le Lavandou.

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