Happy Birthday Jacques Villeneuve (Snr)

Canadian racer Jacques Villeneuve Sr. was born November 4, 1953. He is the younger brother of the late Gilles Villeneuve, and uncle to Jacques Villeneuve (1997 F1 world champion).  Born in the small town of Berthierville, Quebec, Canada, Villeneuve has had a varied motorsport career, taking in Formula Atlantic, CART, Can-Am, snowmobile racing and Formula One, and remains a revered figure in Canadian motorsport circles. Villeneuve was the first person to win the World Championship Snowmobile Derby three times and has continued to race snowmobile events throughout his career.

From 1976 to 1978 He moved into saloon racing and won the Honda Civic series and many other races. He then raced in Formula Fords, and then Formula Atlantic, where he took Rookie of the Year in 1979, then consecutive titles in 1980 and 1981. He also won the World Championship Snowmobile Derby in 1980. At the end of 1981, he took a pair of drives for the Arrows Formula One team, but failed to qualify for the Canadian Grand Prix, or the Caesars Palace Grand Prix. In 1979 he competed in the Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash in a Porsche 928 co-piloted by John Lane (Gilles Villeneuve’s sponsor and friend). In 1982  Villeneuve won the World Championship Snowmobile Derby & took home $11,300 for his win, with cash and prizes totaling over $50,000. Sadly his brother Gilles Villeneuve died in May 1982. Jacques spent most of the year in Can-Am, though he would take a one-off drive in CART. 1983 saw him take the Can-Am title, as well as another Formula One drive (narrowly failing to qualify a RAM for the 1983 Canadian Grand Prix). During this period, he also kept up his snowmobiling exploits, winning a number of prestigious races, and had a one-off drive at the 1983 24 Hours of Le Mans.

1984 saw a return to CART, with Villeneuve ranking 15th overall, having taken pole position at the Phoenix round. The following year he became the first Canadian to win a CART race, taking victory in the wet/dry race at Road America on his way to eighth overall in the standings. He became the only person to win a third World Championship Snowmobile Derby in 1986. After spending the season of CART and his only appearance in the Indianapolis 500, Villeneuve scaled back his motor racing activities, though he has regularly returned for occasional drives to CART, Formula Atlantic (winning some of these guest races) and IMSA. He also remained highly active and successful in snowmobiling, also branching out to powerboat racing. On January 18, 2008, Villeneuve was seriously injured in an accident during a snowmobile race at Eagle River, Wisconsin. He suffered multiple leg and pelvic fractures as a result, in addition to a spinal injury. It is estimated that it will take Villeneuve seven to nine months to recover from his injuries.”Uncle” Jacques Villeneuve was inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame in 2001.

Whilst I am on the subject of Motor Sport, here are the results of a rather action packed Abu Dhabi Grand Prix which took place on 4th November 2012, here are the results:

1 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Lotus F1 Team 1hr 45min 58.667secs,
2 Fernando Alonso (Spa) Ferrari 1:45:59.519,
3 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Red Bull 1:46:02.830,
4 Jenson Button (Gbr) McLaren 1:46:06.454,
5 Pastor Maldonado (Ven) Williams 1:46:11.674,
6 Kamui Kobayashi (Jpn) Sauber-Ferrari 1:46:18.743,
7 Felipe Massa (Bra) Ferrari 1:46:21.563,
8 Bruno Senna (Bra) Williams 1:46:22.209,
9 Paul di Resta (Gbr) Force India 1:46:22.827,
10 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:46:26.130,
11 Michael Schumacher (Ger) Mercedes GP 1:46:26.742,
12 Jean-Eric Vergne (Fra) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:46:33.573,
13 Heikki Kovalainen (Fin) Caterham 1:46:46.431,
14 Timo Glock (Ger) Marussia 1:46:55.140,
15 Sergio Perez (Mex) Sauber-Ferrari 1:46:55.435,
16 Vitaly Petrov (Rus) Caterham 1:47:03.262,
17 Pedro de la Rosa (Spa) HRT-F1 1:47:10.445

Tribute to Henri Matisse

French artist Henri Matisse sadly passed away on November 3rd 1954. Born 31 December 1869 in Le Cateau-Cambrésis, Nord, he is known for his use of colour and his fluid and original draughtsmanship. Matsse was a draughtsman, printmaker, and sculptor, but is known primarily as a painter Matisse is commonly regarded, along with Picasso and Marcel Duchamp, as one of the three artists who helped to define the revolutionary developments in the plastic arts in the opening decades of the 20th century, responsible for significant developments in painting and sculpture. Although he was initially labelled a Fauve (wild beast), by the 1920s he was increasingly hailed as an upholder of the classical tradition in French painting. His mastery of the expressive language of colour and drawing, displayed in a body of work spanning over a half-century, won him recognition as a leading figure in modern art. The first painting of Matisse acquired by a public collection was Still Life with Geraniums (1910), exhibited in the Pinakothek der Moderne.

Matisse was also recognized as a leader of an artistic movement known as Fauvism which began as a style around 1900 and continued beyond 1910, the movement only lasted a few years and had three exhibitions. The leaders of the movement were Matisse & André Derain; the two were friendly rivals, each with his own followers. Other members were Georges Braque, Raoul Dufy and Maurice de Vlaminck. The Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau (1826–1898) was the movement’s inspirational teacher who pushed his students to think outside of the lines of formality and to follow their visions. In 1905, Matisse and a group of artists exhibited together & The paintings expressed emotion with wild, often dissonant colours, without regard for the subject’s natural colours. Matisse showed Open Window and Woman with the Hat at the Salon. Matisses’s fondnes for bright and expressive colour became more pronounced after he spent the summer of 1904 painting in St. Tropez with the neo-Impressionists Signac and Henri Edmond Cross. In 1904 he painted the most important of his works in the neo-Impressionist style, Luxe, Calme et Volupté. In 1905 he travelled southwards again to work with André Derain. His paintings of this period are characterized by flat shapes and controlled lines, and use pointillism in a less rigorous way than before.

Around April 1906 he met Pablo Picasso, & The two became lifelong friends as well as rivals and are often compared; one key difference between them is that Matisse drew and painted from nature, while Picasso was much more inclined to work from imagination. The subjects painted most frequently by both artists were women and still life, with Matisse more likely to place his figures in fully realized interiors. Matisse and Picasso were first brought together at the Paris salon of Gertrude Stein and her companion Alice B. Toklas, who became important collectors and supporters of Matisse’s paintings during the first decade of the 20th century. They also collected many paintings by Renoir, Cézanne, Matisse, and Picasso at the Salon and Gertrude Stein’s two American friends from Baltimore, the Cone sisters Claribel and Etta,also became major patrons of Matisse and Picasso, collecting hundreds of their paintings. The Cone collection is now exhibited in the Baltimore Museum of Art.

In 1917 Matisse relocated to Cimiez on the French Riviera, a suburb of the city of Nice. His work of the decade or so following this relocation shows a relaxation and a softening of his approach. This “return to order” is characteristic of much art of the post-World War I period, and can be compared with the neoclassicism of Picasso and Stravinsky. After 1930 a new vigor and bolder simplification appeared in his work. American art collector Albert C. Barnes convinced him to produce a large mural for the Barnes Foundation, The Dance II, which was completed in 1932; the Foundation owns several dozen other Matisse paintings. This move towards simplification and a foreshadowing of the cutout technique are also evident in his painting Large Reclining Nude.

PART 2
In 1941, he underwent surgery and started using a wheelchair, and was cared for by a Russian woman, Lydia Delektorskaya who was formerly one of his models, Then With the aid of assistants he set about creating cut paper collages, often on a large scale, called gouaches découpés. His Blue Nudes series feature prime examples of this technique he called “painting with scissors”; they demonstrate the ability to bring his eye for colour and geometry to a new medium of utter simplicity, but with playful and delightful power.

During World War II Matisse, was shocked to learn that his daughter Marguerite, was active in the Résistance and had been captured & tortured in Rennes prison and sentenced to the Ravensbrück concentration camp, but avoided further imprisonment by escaping from the Ravensbrück-bound train and survived in the woods until rescued by fellow members of the Resistance.

In 1947 Matisse published Jazz, a limited-edition book containing about one hundred prints based on his colorful paper cutouts accompanied by his written thoughts. In the 1940s he also worked as a graphic artist and produced black-and-white illustrations for several books and over one hundred original lithographs at the Mourlot Studios in Paris. Matisse was much admired and repeatedly referred to by the Greek Nobelist poet Odysseas Elytis. Elytis was introduced to Matisse through their common friend Tériade, during the work on the Cutouts. Matisse had painted the wall of the dining room of Tériade’s residence, the Villa Natacha in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, which Elytis also mentioned in his poems.

In 1951 Matisse finished a four-year project of designing the interior, the glass windows and the decorations of the Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence, often referred to as the Matisse Chapel. This project was the result of the close friendship between Matisse and Sister Jacques-Marie.[3 He had hired her as a nurse and model in 1941 before she became a Dominican nun and they met again in Vence and started the collaboration, a story related in her 1992 book Henri Matisse: La Chapelle de Vence and in the 2003 documentary “A Model for Matisse”.In 1952 he established a museum dedicated to his work, the Matisse Museum in Le Cateau, and this museum is now the third-largest collection of Matisse works in France. Matisse’s final work was the design for a stained-glass window installed at the Union Church of Pocantico Hills near the Rockefeller estate north of New York City. “It was his final artistic creation; the maquette was on the wall of his bedroom when he died in November of 1954 of a heart attack at the age of 84. He is interred in the cemetery of the Monastère Notre Dame de Cimiez, near Nice.