and his friends
In 1976 my father made his home, enthralled, opposite the ramparts of Saint-Paul de Vence, the legendary village of his dreams … here he found joy in the immense sky and light, but also the eye of the painters and artists who had traversed centuries in this place and lit up this land of shepherds, this rudderless ship-shaped village with its doves glowing amber in the setting sun. For him life was a party equal to the tragedy he had experienced during the Nazi occupation, from which he had miraculously escaped.
In this way he endlessly enjoyed the delights of living in this enchanted place. He had rebuilt here in his way a kind of Garden of Eden where the fruit trees, the vegetable patch, the sculptures and the animals lived together in natural surroundings comprising the soul, the intellect and fantasy.
This dwelling soon became the place where all his friends, artists, poets, gallery owners and writers met up for those happy times in the country for which my father had a fondness. They were lighthearted, carefree times not just art and poetry parties but the great gaity and pleasure of being together.
All these people thus often met up at the house called “Rose de Saron” and a great tableful of them would sit in the shade of the fig and orange trees. Each one contributed his ideas and anecdotes, puns, songs, poems and huge jokes. Théo orchestrated the whole thing, often to the accompaniment of Frédéric Altmann’s tenor voice.
James Baldwin would come as a neighbour and would speak about literature to the American writer Chaïm Potok, who was the author of “The Chosen” and who spent many weeks at Tobiasse’s writing his book “The gift of Asher Lev”, on Tobiasse’s life.
There was Yves Bayard, the architect of the Mamac, and his partner the decorator Jacqueline Morabito, the artist Nivèse, Arman and Corice, César, Nall, his lifelong friends Odette and Albert de Domenico, the Sapones, the engraver Pierre Chave, the famous art bookshop owners Jacques and Madeleine Matarasso, André Verdet, Saint-Paul’s figurehead, Jean-Louis Prat, the then director of the Maeght Foundation. As for Macha and Sacha Sosno, and Jean-Claude Fahri, they were often to be found in the company of Denise and Roger Vergé for rather sophisticated dinners with Marius Issert, the then mayor and a great friend of the artist. Franta and Jacqueline were also included with Jacques Renoir. In the winter everyone joined in with the cooking in the huge kitchen in front of the log fire… This was where the first wild “barbotique” parties, thought up by larger-than-life Yves Bayard, took shape. He was a pianist, jazzman, atist and architect. Not forgetting the photographer André Villers who immortalized all these rare and precious moments.