A day in Paris by Esprit de France #20

A day in Paris | Creative spirit | History and heritage | A day in Paris
Ateliers d'artistes Montparnasse par Esprit de France

An initiatory walk through the Montparnasse district

Leaving your Hôtel Aiglon of the collection of hotels & demeures Esprit de France, you will find yourself on Boulevard Raspail, in the heart of one of the richest Parisian areas regarding the history of modern art. On your left, a little further down, you might go and relax in one of the large brasseries and cafes that have made Montparnasse famous and that we have recently mentioned in the mythical history of this district. On your right, we suggest that you take Rue Campagne Première, dominated by a magnificent 1910s building that is characterized by a glazed sandstone facade by Bigot and large windows typical of artists' studios. Soutine, Man Ray, César lived there. Just before, at No. 29, is the small Hôtel Istria where the Dadaists Man Ray, Picabia and Tristan Tzara stayed as well as the poets Rainer Maria Rilke, Vladimir Mayakovsky and Aragon with Elsa Triolet, not to mention the composer Eric Satie. At No. 23, which also overlooks the Passage d'Enfer, a passage which has remained intact since its construction, there used to be the studio of the Japanese painter Foujita, while that of the famous photographer Eugène Atget was at No. 17bis and 19. Nicolas de Staël lived at No. 13 bis, but No. 9 is where the largest concentration of studios are located. Indeed, beyond the gate you will discover an alley with, on the right, several levels of studios: Othon Friesz painted his first Fauve works, De Chirico his first metaphysical works and Rainer Maria Rilke suffered misery before becoming the secretary of the great sculptor Rodin. No. 3, the location of the Chez Rosalie restaurant, owned by Rosalie Tobia -the model of many artists including Modigliani- accommodated the sculptor François Pompon (his Bear, a manifesto of art deco sculpture, has become worldwide famous); James Mc Neill Whistler and Amedeo Modigliani also worked there.

On the side of even numbers, at No. 14, was Yves Klein's studio. Like most "montparnos", he was a regular customer at La Coupole. A friend of the owner, he used to take advantage of the roof terrace of this brasserie to practice judo professionally since that is how he made a living. And like many other artists in the neighborhood, he used to be a customer of the color dealer Adam (located 200m away, Boulevard Edgar Quinet). The latter provided his wise advice to all his customers and played a key role in the development of the "Yves Klein blue", at the origin of the monochromes and nudes that made the artist famous.

Fondation Quartier Hôtel Aiglon

Leaving rue Campagne Première, take the parallel street, rue Boissonnade, another high place for artists' studios -where the Russian Alexandra Exter or the Italian Soffici etc… once lived- to go back to Boulevard Raspail. Do not miss the Fondation Cartier there, which features major exhibitions of contemporary art. Its architecture the sobriety of which is exalted by a play of glass walls is the work of Jean Nouvel, a French star of the new global architecture.