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Robert Tatin museum – weird whacky & wonderful No, Robert Tatin is not related to the Tatin sisters of the famous apple tart fame. He was an extraordinary artist whose home became a museum. You may never have heard of him but once you see his house and art you're unlikely to forget it. You can take a bus from Laval centre for the short journey to the museum. If you fancy a gentle cycle ride, rent a bike in Laval and take the route along an abandoned railway track from the town right to the entrance. From the road, nothing looks unusual about this place but after entering via the ticket office you’ll emerge onto a walk way of giants. Enormous stone statues representing artists, historic figures and allegories are astonishing for their size and their looks. At the end of the walkway is Tatin’s house, now a museum and it is extraordinary, unique, quirky and fascinating. The first sight of it made me think of a Mayan temple - in Mayenne! It is in total contrast to the lush green bucolic countryside - weird, whacky and wonderful. Robert Tatin, born 1902 in Laval, was a construction worker for most of his working life but in his spare time he studied art. He lived for a while in Brazil and travelled around South America. At the age of 43 he decided to follow his dream and moved to Paris to open an artists workshop. By now he had gained international recognition. He returned at the age of 60 to Mayenne and bought an old, small house on the outskirts of Laval, here his artistic passions were fully unleashed.
Top left: view of Tatin's extraordinary house; bottom left: the alley of the giants; mid left: the original entrance to the house; above: the inner courtyard; mid left: one of Tatin's paintings; left: the artist's studio left as it was when he died. Tatin decided the house needed a wood store and it was this that launched him on an astonishing creative journey. He built a shed next to the house and let his imagination run wild, influenced by his time in South America. When the building was finished he thought it was too beautiful just to store wood, so he built another shed for storage. Once again, he let his creative spirit take over and once again, he felt the shed was too special just to hold wood. He built another, and another until eventually he ran out of space. By now his artistic juices were well and truly flowing and Tatin wanted to build bigger and bolder and more imaginative rooms. He was told that if he declared his home and creations as a museum he would have more privileges. He applied for museum status and seven years later the house and buildings were approved and Tatin used the additional rooms he built to exhibit his paintings and sculptures. He carried on building until he died in 1983. His legacy is a truly extraordinary and eccentric building in the middle of beautiful countryside. The rooms are filled with his minutely detailed, symbolic artworks. Discover wild, dramatic and magnificent paintings that are complex and fanciful. Incredible sculptures, larger than life and brilliantly bizarre designs make you smile. Tatin is buried in the front garden of his beloved home. His house is exactly as it was when he died, even down to toothbrush and toothpaste, and slithers of soap in the bathroom. Every room bears the mark of his artistic genius - and it makes for a fabulous visit. Website www.musee-robert-tatin.fr
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