La Piscine (The Pool), a huge pool and public baths were built between 1927 and 1932 for the health and well-being of Roubaix’s textile workers. La Piscine was closed in 1985, when the roof became unsafe and in 2011 it was restored and reopened as Roubaix’s Museum of Art and Industry (source).
The way they transformed a public pool into a museum is so creative and pretty. The small change rooms and showers are now empty. Some are left as they were with coat hangers built into the tiled walls and the soap dish in the shower area. It was so interesting to see how small they were. Other change rooms and showers had textiles on display and other pieces of art.
The museum also had paintings on the walls where the change rooms and showers used to be. Roubaix was a famous textile town, and my favorite painting was the one of the ladies working in the wool factory in 1910.
The pool area of the museum has a permanent collection of sculptures, porcelain vases, textile samples, clothing, hats and other fashion accessories. Looking at the dresses and small handbags from the 1950s, it made me want to buy some of the finery on display.
What I also liked about this section of the museum was that on occasion they would play a soundtrack with the sounds of children and people swimming and playing in the water. The echo of the large room, makes it sound real and adds to the experience of walking in the old pool.
A special collection of photographs be American photographer, David Douglas Duncan, along with nearly 100 original works by Picasso are currently being exhibited at La Piscine. See pieces of art in real life and then in the photographs adds so much more to seeing Picasso’s works. You can appreciate their detail and beauty as they stand alone, but also see them in context – how the artist placed them in his own home. Duncan photographed Picasso at work even from the first brush stroke.
I’d have to say that Picasso was a bit of a messy guy. An artistic genius who had so much artwork surrounding him, it looked like a warehouse of treasures. If you can call the Villa La Californie a “warehouse” located in the lovely Cannes, France, most of Duncan’s photos show the Spanish artist working and playing in only his shorts.
I’m no expert on art or artists, and I don’t even know that much about Picasso, but from what I can see from Duncan’s photos, he looked like an artist who really had a vision. Duncan captured Picasso frowning in concentration and it looks like he thought about what he was going to paint before he started and he made each stroke carefully and correctly the first time.
Its a very interesting experience to get a wider picture of Picasso and his work through Duncan’s intimate photographs of him working. I felt lucky to have the chance to see this exhibition knowing how many people out there adore Picasso’s work. Even if you can’t make it to see the Picasso/Duncan exhibition, La Piscine is still definitely worth a visit.
What was the most moving art exhibition you’ve visited? Have you been lucky enough to see something many people haven’t?