Changed plans...

My intention was to visit “Le Hameau d’Alleray”, the little kind of alley where some of us would like to live. However, the gate was closed and I found nobody to open it, so here is just a photo taken through the gate.

Well, I had to find something for my blog, so I took a little walk. Here is a picture of the war memorial of the 15th arrondissement. It dates from 1934, but later received some additional text referring to WWII and also to the Indochina War. You find a mixture of personalities on the left, noblemen, revolutionaries…, supposed to be anonymous. However it seems quite obvious that one of the revolutionaries must be Danton?   
I continued my walk to the nearby Square Saint Lambert. This park replaced an important gas factory (1894 map, 1900 illustration - below) and was created during the 1930’s. The park is quite large … and a nice spring day quite occupied – it was lunch-break hours. 


Darkness or light?

Almost seven years ago I posted about the Chartres Cathedral (and also about the town), so I will try not to repeat myself too much here…,

… only to say that the renovation, the cleaning process of the cathedral, is ongoing - see the contrast between dark and light in the top picture.

Some people seem to be against, finding that the fantastic blueish windows are in less contrast when the walls have been cleaned – and some colours also appear.

I had the privilege to meet Mr. Malcolm Miller, who has been giving tours of the cathedral for the last almost 60 years and has lectured on it at a number of French and foreign universities. He is a clear defender of the restoration work and he had no difficulties to make me agree. It may be difficult to know exactly what it all looked like when the cathedral stood ready during the 13th century, but it’s obvious that the darkness of the walls that we have been used to see to a large extent basically is “pure filth”. Most experts – and visitors – now seem to agree that the renovation which will last for another one or two years, is a good thing.

Visiting the cathedral with Mr. Miller means also that you learn to discover some details of some 176 (186?) stained glass windows, almost all original and medieval. Some windows are actually as old as from about 1150 - parts of an older church which burnt down were saved and incorporated when the new building work started in 1194. This refers e.g. to the “Jesse”, the “Incarnation” and the “Passion and Resurrection” windows.

These windows can be found on the west façade, which thus was there already as part of the previous church. These sculptures and reliefs are thus considered to date from around 1145-50. By the way, the south tower is also from that period, whereas the north tower got its present shape only some 400 years later.

Some views from the other facades.

Here we can see the 13th century north and south rose windows…

… and some details from other windows... 

... where we can discover, Adam, Eve… One theory is of course that the windows also are there to tell the stories of the Bible, considering that they were made when most people couldn’t yet read.

The floor labyrinth is from 1205. If you follow the trace, you will have to walk almost 300 meters (964 ft).

The choir screen, also partly cleaned, is more recent – 16th to 18th centuries.  


Villa Hallé

Well, another little alley. Nothing really spectacular here, obviously a place where no word-famous artists used to live - as far as I know - ... just an impression of a place where it could be nice to live. 


Villa d'Alésia

I continue with my walks to different “villas”, alleys, where many of the early 20th century artists lived and worked – and where possibly a few of today’s artists may live. Here we are at “Villa d’Alésia”. Most of the buildings, studios, workshops… date from late 19th century.

It seems that Henri Matisse as well as Fernand Léger worked here for shorter periods. Wifredo Lam obviously had a studio here for a longer period.

There is a surprising mixture of buildings, architectures…

For many years one of the houses used to be the home of the painter Auguste Leroux (1871-1954).

This blue door belongs to a building where the glass artists Jacques Gruber (1871-1936) and later also his son Jean-Jacques Gruber (1904-88) worked as from 1914. Jacques Gruber is especially known as the creator of the glass dome of Galeries Lafayette (1912), which I photograph every Christmas - see 2010 here.

Just behind the “Villa d’Alésia” you can find a charming little square, “Jardin Lionel-Assouad”, partly surrounded by some nice older buildings. 


Villa Gabriel

Walking around Montparnasse, especially thinking about the artist life during the first part of the 20th century, - see e.g. my recent posts about the Bourdelle Museum and about Cité Falguière - I also managed to visit what is named Villa Gabriel. We are in a part of Paris where so much was changed during the 1960’s and 70’s, of course including the Montparnasse Tower… , but a few streets and alleys, some workshops and studios... are still around to remind us about the artistically rich Montparnasse years.

On the map comparisons below (1894 and today), we can see how the Villa Gabriel and the Bourdelle Museum are interconnected and there is even an imagined prolongation with the other small alley on which I posted already in 2008, the “Chemin de Montparnasse”, where Marie Vasieleff offered meals and drinks to starving and thirsty artists like Chagall, Picasso, Leger, Modigliani, Soutine, Zadkine, Matisse…  
When, around 1905, the Franciscans who had occupied Villa Gabriel had to leave, the different workshops and studios that had been created became occupied by different craftsmen and artists and also by a school specialising in the teaching of electricity, the Ecole Breguet - which since has left.

Very difficult to find some more detailed information about who may have been the artists who have lived here – there are still some around, but we will perhaps learn more about them in some decades… . I found information only about Alfred Maurer (1868-1932). Starting in a more conventional way, like with the prize-winning “An arrangement” we can see here, he developed during his later Paris-years by painting in a cubist and fauvist manner. Despite support from Leo and Gertrude Stein, something went wrong, he went back to his native US, was almost forgotten and committed suicide. Some of his paintings are now worth several hundred thousand dollars and can be found in the leading museums.   


Cité Falguière

The photo above shows the studio where Tsuguharu Foujita (1886-1968) lived and worked during some of the WWI years. He was advised by his friends Chaïm Soutine (1893-1943) and Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920) that this studio was available. We are at Cité Falguière where Soutine and Modigliani already lived. Here we can see Foujita and also Modigliani, sitting in Foujita’s studio… and Foujita’s drawings of Jeanne Hébuterne (1898-1920) – she modelled for him even before meeting Modigliani. (I’m not here telling the tragic end of the story between Modigliani and Hébuterne …. see e.g. my post here.)  

I will talk more about Soutine, Modigliani and others… but first a look on where we are.  We are in a little alley, which got its present name, Cité Falguière, after the death of the sculptor Alexandre Falguière (1831-1900). Here we can see Falguière in a self-portrait and as sculpted by his good friend Rodin. The statue of Balzac is by Falguière.

Around 1870 a collaborator and sculptor friend of Falguière, Jules-Ernest Bouillot, took the initiative to build a number of simple, cheap, studios for artists in this alley.  This is also where he lived, more comfortably, himself. In 1877 Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) moved in, no to one of the new studios, but in a building on the corner of the street. Gauguin was then a young man, working as a stockbroker, married and father of five kids… JE Bouillot and some other artists living in the alley encouraged Gauguin to sculpt and the only two busts known by Gauguin were made here, representing his wife and one of the kids. He also made his self-portrait and painted another of his kids. Only a few years later Gauguin decided to be a full-time artist.

Let’s have a look on the little alley. A large part of the studios disappeared in the 1960’s during those days' sometimes violent housing projects, but a few are still there, nos. 9 and 11. I tried with colours to show what has changed…  Soutine has painted the disappeared no. 13. 

… and he also painted the no. 11, where he worked himself. Walking along the alley, I was lucky to by pure chance run into the artist who now occupies the studio, Mira Maodus, and she very kindly opened the door!!  

Here we can see Chaïm Soutine – a self-portrait, but also as portrayed by his friend Modigliani. … and what their often common meals may have looked like. We are still in the WWI years.  

These were the years when Modigliani concentrated on sculpting, but not only… It’s a bit unclear exactly in which studio Modigliani lived, but it seems that he quite often shared with Soutine. They were very good friends, although very different… Modigliani was always careful about his looks and behaviour, Soutine not at all.  

Another occupant of one of the studios those days was Constantin Brâncusi (1876-1957). He was also portrayed by Modigliani.

Thanks to Mira Maodus I managed to get into what you can’t see from the street side. This included then of course the Foujita studio we can see on the top picture.  Looking over the roof tops, we can see the immediate neighbouring buildings of the Pasteur Institute (see previous post).

I thought I also just had to mention here “Kiki de Montparnasse” (Alice Prin, 1901-53), who already “appeared” in a number of my posts, e.g. here. She was an early friend of Soutine, came here quite young… and later of course became “La Reine de Montparnasse”. Here we see her as (later) painted by Foujita and of course as the famous “Violon d’Ingres” by Man Ray.  

I think I have to mention a few other artists from the same period – Joseph Csaky (1888-1971), Maurice Blond (1899-1974) and Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso (1887-1918) – photographed at Cité Falguière during a party with friends.

It seems also that among frequent later guests to artist friends here were Georges Brassens (1921-81) - on whom I have also posted several times (e.g here, here and here) and also that it was during a visit here that Marcel Marceau (1923-2007) invented his famous “Bip” character.