Almost four years ago, I wrote about this amazing place on the Montmartre borders (see here). It had then just been saved from some plans to transform what used to be a home for artists to exclusive flats and lofts. Fortunately the place was saved, bought by the City of Paris. Important works have since been done to make the place easier to live in – central heating, isolation and a general freshening-up.
It’s now ready and looks of course nice. Here are some photos from the exterior and from some renovated artist studios.
The buildings which date from the latter part of the 19th century have a very decorative element, these stairs, which obviously were made by material recuperated from a World Exhibition pavilion (or possibly from Gare Saint-Lazare). Here you can see the stairs in a comparison between now and before the renovation.
The number of artists who have lived and worked here is impressive and include Auguste Renoir, Paul Cezanne (a portrait of Ambroise Vollard, who gave financial and moral support to a number of artists), Eugène Carrière (a portrait of the poet Paul Verlaine), Francis Picabia (who went from impressionism to pointillism to cubism), Paul Signac (neo-impressionist who developed the pointillism with Georges Seurat), Henri Rousseau (the orientalist, not “Le Douanier”), Raoul Dufy (fauvist), Louis Marcoussis (cubist), Nicolas Schöffer (considered as the father of cybernetic art)… In the early 20th century the artists had frequent neighbour visitors like Picasso, Dali, Miro … and Gertrud Stein. Furthermore, some movies have to large extent been shot on this spot, like “The Clowns” by Frederico Fellini, “Escalier C” by Jean-Jacques Tacchella, “Quartet” by James Ivory.
However, the garden may have lost part of its charm, not only because of the different seasons when my photos were taken - see my comparison of "now" and "before". The artists who live here have created an association to try to give some “life” to the place, of course including some “events”. If you want to help them, you can do as I have done – become a member of their association. You should then pay an annual fee of 15 € to the order of “Viille A des Arts”, 15 rue Hégésippe Moureau, 75018 Paris. J