Impasse des roses, the story

Jacky Coville's studio and current home were the cradle of ceramic creations by Fernand Léger and Roland Brice between 1950 and 1955 (the year of Fernand Léger's death).

In 1950, Fernand Léger, back from the United States, wanted to create monumental colourful ceramic murals that would resist over time. Léger thought of collaborating with his former pupil, Roland Brice, who had become a ceramist and settled in Biot. He joined Brice in Biot and began a creative adventure in Brice's workshop, which he adapted to suit his needs.

The aim of our association is to keep this place in our cultural heritage and to celebrate its two former illustrious occupants. We particularly want to protect its exceptionally large Chassimetal "grand feu" kiln installed by Léger for the production of his monumental ceramics. The wall of the kiln has original  annotations which testify to the complexity of its use. All of Fernand Léger's ceramics were fired in this giant...

We hope that this unique place will become not only a Foundation/Museum featuring the art of ceramics, but also an artist's residence and a cultural place accessible to all, a place to share and remember. It will be an exceptional asset for our city of Biot and for the whole of the Côte d'Azur. 

Area of the workshop as designed by Fernand Léger and Roland Brice in 1950

Fernand et Nadia Leger, Roland Brice et Claude Brice
Photo d'André Villiers, Fernand et Nadia Leger, Roland Brice et Claude Brice à Biot
Atelier d'artiste, atelier de jacky coville, cote d'azur, patrimoine culturel à preserver
Photo de Jon Kershaw

This workshop, thanks to Roland Brice and Fernand Leger, is an important chapter in the history of Modern Art and it continues to live with Jacky Coville. The artist, now 86 years old, wants his property to be open to the public and his work to be seen and enjoyed by as many people as possible.

  Fernand Léger, meanwhile, was opening up an entirely new path in ceramics. Focusing his attention on the receptive nature of clay as a material, he sought to explore its potential in order to fulfil an old dream of his: that of spreading colour on town building facades, then covering city walls, to make colours come alive on a large scale. He threw himself into a real adventure, which was both unique and human, because he made Roland Brice, a former student of his and long-time friend, his partner in his large-scale projects. With prodigious inventiveness and a keen understanding of his former teacher's aesthetic concepts, from 1950 to 1955, Brice, a ceramist, brought the famous 'third dimension' to Fernand Léger's painted works. Roland Brice began by interpreting the patterns from both the 1930s gouaches and the easel paintings that Léger had made available to him. He then produced remarkable polychrome works in vivid colours, first in red clay, then in glazed white clay. Thus, from the kilns of the studio located in the valley of the pottery centre of Biot, came ceramic reliefs reflecting the significant progress of the work being done by the two men, unusual in that each partner knew what he was bringing to the other. With Léger providing the plastic diversity, Brice gave voice to it, bringing the projects to fruition with skill. With spirit of bold innovation, Léger made adjustments to the reliefs, touching up flat areas, moulding shapes, contrasting contours with strong lines, and bright colours with matt tones; Brice executed the compositions, with their contrasting effects that played on the balance between reliefs and shapes. During those exciting years, Léger and Brice worked tirelessly on their material. The ceramist devoted himself to techniques, enamelling, firings. The partnership between the two artists was unlike any other artistic collaboration of this type in the history of ceramics, and the pieces presented at this auction illustrate perfectly that the test of fire has not only immortalised the colours, but is also keeping alive the work conceived by the two men. Rodolphe Cosimi, Art critic and biographer of Roland Brice.

August 2016

Address of the association :

27 rue Saint-Sébastien, 06410 Biot  -  FRANCE


Telephone: +33(0)610814790

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Cultural Heritage