Jim Ritchie Sculptor
|June 1950||June 2012|
"Couple Early Morning"
Jim Ritchie, a Canadian sculptor (b.1929), had several exhibitions of his works in his native Montréal before deciding to settle in the small town of Vence, in Provence..
Known as «Cité des Arts», Vence has had a long history as a haven for artists; among them, Chagal, Matisse and Dubuffet. The writer D.H. Lawrence also worked in Vence, where he died.
In 1967, Ritchie’s home and studio were in the center of town, on the third floor of the historic Villa Alexandrine, built in 1911.
Italian in style, it overlooks the main square, Place du Grand Jardin.
His neighbours on the second floor were Rita and Witold Gombrowicz.
Rita, a fellow Canadian, and her husband Witold, who was soon to become one of Poland’s most famous writers, lived there until his death in 1969.
For Ritchie, the proximity of Italy was a deciding factor, and he has worked in the Tuscan town of Pietrasanta, made famous by Michaelangelo, for more than forty years.
The stone carvers and foundries were what led him to that area, and while he prefers Vence as ideal for creating his pieces, Pietrasanta, only 350 kilometers away, is where he produces his bronze and marble sculptures.
During a period of thirty years, he lived and worked in the Villa Alexandrine, his studio in the tower and the stone carving in the garden behind the building, which is now the Parking Marie-Antoinette.
After living in the center of Vence for more than thirty years, in 1997, he and his son Paul found an abandoned Italian style Mas, or farmhouse, just outside the village, on a hill overlooking the Matisse Chapel.
Ritchie then went about rebuilding the Mas de L’Ormée, while continuing to sculpt and travel to Pietrasanta several times a year.
After three exhibitions in London in the sixties, he showed at Waddington Galleries in Montréal during the seventies.
He was then represented by Adelson Galleries in New York starting in 1980 where he had two one-man shows.
During the next twenty years, Warren Adelson arranged exhibitions of his work in Boston, Los Angeles and the Miami Art Fair.
He now shows his work locally and at the Mas de L’Ormée in Vence where he has a permanent exhibition of his scrulptures from the different periods of his sixty-year career.
The large marble and bronze pieces can be seen in the beautiful garden of Le Mas among the cypress and olive trees with an exceptional view of the Mediterranean sea below.
In the center of the old town of Vence stands a monumental bronze sculpture that he created for the Village where he has worked for over fifty years.
It is a cubist figure of a young woman and is called «La Vençoise», an hommage to the town he loves and the inspiration he has found there.