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.

1 comment:

Karen said...

Very informative post. Many, many years ago a visitor from Belgium bought me a book of Soutine's paintings...( I still have it) and I was delighted to see some of them at the Orangerie on one of my Paris trips. Most of his work is rather disturbing and it's interesting to see his connection to Gauguin and Modigliani.