April 2010


Kiichiro Okano (1917-1995) of Suruga Bank (founded by Kitaro Okano, who turned 100 in 1963), opened a museum on 23 November 1973, housing the artworks of Bernard Buffet. The museum is located at Mishima city, Shizuoka prefecture, Japan.

Mr Okano’s collection numbers about 1,800 (Suruga Bank website), and is the only museum in the world dedicated solely to the art of the French painter. Scattered in private collections around the world, Bernard Buffet created over 8,000 works of art (oil paintings, watercolours, engravings, lithographs, and sculptures), as many as that of Renoir and Picasso.

The Clematis Hill White Garden (in japanese: Clematis no Oka) is a “multi-cultural facility of art and nature” (the Clematis no Oka website), owned by the Okano family.

Although the Bernard Buffet Museum was opened in November 1973 and the Clematis Hill White Garden in April 2002, the premises is called the Clematis no Oka.

Aside from the Buffet Museum, other establishments on the premises are: the Literary Museum for Yasushi Inoue which opened in 1973, the Vangi Sculpture Garden Museum which opened in April 2002, and the Izu Photo Museum which opened in October 2009.

Kiichiro Okano is the father of the current president of Suruga Bank, Kinosuke Okano (2008 information). It was the wife of Kinosuke, Taeko, who established the clematis garden in April 2002, after seeing these flowers for the first time on a trip to London (http://www.clematisinternational.com/japan200803s.html).

Clematis no Oka Communication Center
Address: 347-1 Higashino Clematis no Oka, Nagaizumi-cho,
Shizuoka Japan 411-0931
TEL: (055) 989-8787 FAX: (055) 989-8790

(By the way, taking photographs at the museum was forbidden and these were taken without permission… I’m sorry, but rest assured I did not use the flash).

Bernard Buffet illustrated Jean Cocteau’s La Voix Humaine (1957).

Synopsis: A young woman is engaged in a telephone call with her lover of five years. He has abandoned her and is to marry another woman the following day. This is the last time they will speak to each other. During the conversation, we learn that the woman has attempted suicide. The phone service in Paris being notoriously poor during that era, they are interrupted several times during the agonizing conversation. — from: http://www.idimage.be

Kiichiro Okano met Bernard Buffet during the early 1950’s. Mr. Okano, vexed by the war, was moved by Buffet’s paintings. His works were a denunciation of the shattered society of post-war France. For Mr. Okano, this was a revelation. Buffet’s art empathised with Okano’s own personal feelings. — from: http://museebernardbuffet.com/

The following information is from: http://www.openart.com/artistas/bernard-buffet

Bernard Buffet was born on July 10, 1928 in Paris, and died on October 4, 1999 in Tourtour (Var – France). In December 1943, he entered the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts where he studied for two years. After this he worked alone.

In 1946, he had his first painting shown, a self-portrait, at the Salon des Moins de Trente Ans at the Galerie Beaux-Arts. In 1947, he exhibited L’homme accoude at the Salon des Independants and in December of the same year he had his first solo exhibition at the Art Impressions book shop in Paris, organised by Guy Weelen and Michel Brient. Raymond Cogniat bought, for the Paris National Museum of Modem Art, a painting entitled Nature morte au poulet.

In April 1948, the painting Le Buveur was exhibited at the Jeune Peinture exhibition organised at the Galerie Drouant-David. His painting was bought by Doctor Girardin, who, at his death, left it to the Paris Museum of Modern Art. At this time Emmanuel David asked him to sign an exclusive contract with his gallery. This contract was then, to be shared by Maurice Garnier.

In June of the same year, he was awarded the Critic’s Prize at the Galerie Saint-Placide in Paris, in conjunction with Lorjou. In July there was an exhibition of his works at this same gallery. In November he exhibited La ravaudeuse de filet in the Salon d’Automne. This painting was also bought by Doctor Girardin and was also left to the Paris Museum of Modern Art upon Doctor Girardin’s death.

In 1949, Pierre Descargues published Bernard Buffet at the Presses Litteraires de France. ln 1951, his friend Jean Giono left him a small house in Manosque where he lived for a short while before renting an ancient bergerie in Nanse, near Reillanne, 17 kilometres from Manosque. He worked there until 1954.

In 1953, Louis Aragon wrote, in les Lettres Francaises, an article entitled Le Paysage Francais a quatre siecles et Bernard Buffet 24 ans (Four Centuries of French Landscape Painting and the 24 Years Old Bernard Buffet).

In 1955, he was awarded the first prize by the magazine Connaissance des arts, which named the 10 best post-war artists. He met Georges Simenon who became his close friend. He bought property in Domont, near Paris, that he left the following year to live at the Château l’Arc near Aix-en-Provence, which was to be his main residence until 1964.

In 1958, at the age of 30, the first retrospective of his work was held at Galerie Charpentier. The same year Pierre Berge published Bernard Buffet at Editions Pierre Cailler, and Georges Hourdin published l’Enfer et le Ciel de Bernard Buffet at Cerf.

December 12,1958 Bernard Buffet married Annabel Schwob at Ramatuelle.

In 1961 he painted a series of paintings depicting the life of Jesus Christ, intended to decorate the Chapelle de Chateau l’Arc. Ten years later, at the request of Monseigneur Pasquale Macci (secretary to Pope Paul VI) he offered these paintings to the Vatican Museum where they remain on permanent exhibition.

His daughter Virginie was born in 1962, and his daughter Danielle in 1963.

In 1964 Maurice Druon published Bernard Buffet at Editions Hachette. Bernard Buffet bought la Vallee in Saint-Cast in Britanny where he worked until 1970. From 1965 to 1971 he lived both in Britanny and Paris.

In May, 1971 he was named « Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur ». In May ,1971 his son Nicolas was born.

November 23, 1973 the Bernard Buffet Museum was inaugurated. It was founded by Kiichiro Okano, in Surugadaira, Japan.

March 13, 1974 he was elected to the Académie des Beaux-Arts.

In 1978, at the request of the Postal Administration, he designed a stamp depicting l’Institut et le Pont des Arts.

In 1980 he purchased a Manor in Normandy, which he left in 1986 to live at the Domaine de la Baume, near Tourtour in the Haut-Var.

In 1986, Annabel published D’amour et d’eau fraiche at Sylvie Messinger, and Georges Durand, la Divine Comedie de Bernard Buffet at Desclee de Brouwer. In 1986, Bernard Buffet by Yann le Pichon edited by Maurice Garnier, obtained the Elie Faure Award.

December 9, 1988 a large extension to the Bernard Buffet Museum was inaugurated in Japan.

In 1989, Alin Alexis Avila published Bernard Buffet, edited by Nouvelles Editions Francaises aux Editions Casterman.

Aside from the Bernard Buffet Museum, you will also find the Vangi Sculptures Museum, and Vangi sculptures dot the lawns of the Clematis no Oka garden.

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