More than meets the eye in Saint Tropez 🇫🇷

Where: St. Tropez, France

“In this period, Hungary, Budapest, you have a revolution. I am a children [child]. I hear the … bomb bomb bomb. Budapest. I see terrifique drama with the people in tree[s]. On the street… I never forget.”

This is what artist and propreitor Ivan Hor said to me while we chatted in his art studio eponymously named in the town of St. Tropez, France.

Saint Tropezienne arist and proprietor, Ivan Hor, speaking about his time growing up in Budapest, Hungary.

The studio, at its absolute brim in artwork, is more than meets the eye. Earlier, as I was about to leave, Ivan came from outside a desk area and started showing me around his studio.

He is fluent in Hungarian and French and knows enough English for a basic conversation.

Arist and proprietor, Ivan Hor, showing Andrew Schiestel around his studio in St. Tropez, France.

As it turned out all the artwork supplied in the store was created by family members (specializing in both originals and copies): His wife Valerie Pons (born in Provence), daughter Emilie Hor, wife’s brother Alexandre Pons, and daughter’s boyfriend. (the daughter’s boyfriend’s name is being attempted to be retrieved)

Ivan’s journey to St. Tropez

Ivan, who was born in Budapest, became an orphan and was eventually adopted by a French family in Toulouse. He went to art school in Paris. His full legal name is Ivan Hor Horesnyi.

“I would make these,” Ivan indicated of his early and inescapable passion for art. For something to do—like a hobby—he would transform the back of his Parisian metro (subway) tickets into pieces of artwork.

Photos of the back of Parisian metro tickets that Ivan transformed into artwork.

After a subsequent revolution in France, in 1968, Ivan—who had been through two revolutions by this point in his life—left Paris, and arrived in Saint Tropez. He was looking for a quieter life.

“I arrived in St. Tropez with my carton [art canvas],” Ivan explained of his decision to go to Saint Tropez.

“I looking for a little [He gesticulated and blew out a whistling sound, a sign of unwinding and relaxing] period.”

“This period is necessary for me for [to] forget,” He continued.

“You never forget,” He then added, instinctively, clearly speaking what was on his mind.

The illustration in the book on the right page depicts Ivan Hor arriving in St. Tropez in 1968 with only a suitcase and an art canvas.

His artwork

Each family member has their own specialty. Since the ‘80s most of Ivan’s work has explored the ambiance of the sea.

“My specialty is with the ambiance on the sea. I make only cardboards. Many different colours.” Ivan described of his principal artwork, having begun this developing the style in 1981.

Self-admittedly not a sailor or seafaring himself, he is though drawn to the environment that boats, the horizon and the sea create.

A sale to Michael Jackson

Ten of his pieces were acquired by hotel, Presidente Maison, in Genoa, Italy. Michael Jackson, who once stayed at the hotel took a liking to one of the Hor pieces, Hotel des Stars, and purchased it.

Ivan Hor shows a photo of a piece of artwork he created that was acquired by a hotel in Genoa, Italy, and later purchased by Michael Jackson.

Family at heart

Ivan was warm and loving to talk to. But throughout the conversation he would return to the concept of civil discord and war on a few occasions—Experiences that surely shaped his view of life from an early age.

He encouraged people to, “Make your business and looking for [look out for] your family also.” Actions and a mind-set he deployed himself over the years.

Of Ivan’s own parents, he knew both. He showed me a photo of him, his mother and his five siblings. (three of the sisters are still alive) And he mentioned that he had met his father “two times” in his life. In our conversation we didn’t get into a specific conversation about his parents and their passings, which occurred during his childhood.

Customers walk through, and interact with Ivan, in his studio.

A full-length feature film

As I spoke with Ivan he kept pulling out books and cartoon illustrations that him and others had created on his life and artwork. And surprisingly, a film (montage) was created on his life. The movie was created in the 1956 for Hungarian cinema and is called Istán Horesnyi.

“All Hungarian know this movie.” Ivan said of the montage based on his life.

His love for St. Tropez came through in the conversation—A town, and period of his life that surely gave him respite from conflict. And where he formed and raised his family. “I have trois nationalitie [three nationalities]: Hungarian, Française, et [and] Tropezienne,” He would say to me. The latter, a patriotic spirit towards St. Tropez that is commonly felt in the community.

The art studio of Ivan Hor in St. Tropez, France. In the art studio is artwork created by himself and family members. (Video taken on June 8, 2024)

Although St. Tropez has been home for more than 50 years, he mentioned that he goes back to Budapest every November where he has a second studio.

At one point he showed me an illustration of two faces—One face had “avant” (before) associated to it. And the other had “maintenant” (now) associated to it. In the before drawing, the face had a frown and tears. In the now drawing, the face was happy and smiling. The two faces represented Ivan’s journey through life to the present day.

Ivan Hor and Andrew Schiestel stand outside of Ivan’s art studio in St. Tropez, France. Andrew is holding a copy of a book that Ivan created and gave to Andrew. The book depicts the town in the French Riviera in an imaginative way.

In a boutique art studio on a narrow cobblestoned road in St. Tropez. is an art studio eponymously named after its proprietor and founder, Ivan Hor, that is more than meets the eye.

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