Lacoste School of the Arts, Vaucluse, France

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Lacoste is over the mountain from Lourmarin, where I lived one year. It is famous as the location of one of the Marquis de Sade’s castles, but that is just a pile of rubble, although the dictates of tourism seem to be reconstructing it. The real art in the area occurs at the Lacoste School of the Arts, founded in 1970 by Cleveland art professor and painter, Bernard Pfriem . I visted in 1987 to write a story and was fascinated by the physicality of working with stone. This is no studio stuff! There is a quarry beside the chateau, and students and artists often carve on boulders they find in the squat forests of scrub oak. I love how this guy manages to keep his hat on while he saws. Among the artists that Pfriem (below) brought in were Benny Andrews, Denis Brihat, Henri Cartier-Bresson, David Douglas Duncan, Nene Humphrey, Gjon Mili, Jean-Pierre Sudre, and Gustaf Sobin. For the first 17 years there was no heat, so almost no one stayed the winters. But Pfriem, who died in 1996, made certain that the bakery was re-started, and once you have a bakery in a French town, all is well.

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