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The Origins of Villa America

Central to the transatlantic exchange of artistic ideas was a gifted and brilliant American painter, Gerald Murphy, who lived in the south of France from 1921 to 1932. After World War I, anything American was hot, and skyscrapers, jazz, and cocktails were all the rage.

In French artistic circles Murphy came to represent the quintessence of the jazz-age American-witty, rich, stylish, and very moderne. Within his orbit were the most daring thinkers, writers, and artists of the Franco-American avant-garde, including Pablo Picasso, Fernand L├ęger, Jean Cocteau, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Dorothy Parker, and Cole Porter.

Their favorite gathering place was Gerald and Sara Murphy's villa at Cap d'Antibes, which Murphy glibly dubbed Villa America. Murphy's role in the great transoceanic exchange is acknowledged in the title of this exhibition and by the Villa America signboard, which he created for his artistic haven.

Gerald and Sara Murphy
at Cap d'Antibes, 1923

Gerald Murphy, Villa America, 1924
© 2005 Estate of Gerald Murphy; licensed by VAGA