In discovering the unique space of the atelier, the viewer enters in the secret universe of creation and slides into the intimacy of the artist’s imaginary world
The meaning: atelier d’artiste = art studio
The first art studios go back to the Middle Ages – back then art was considered sacred and God-related, arts and crafts were widely confused and the atelier was practically a workshop. During the Renaissance, art lost its purely religious aura to become a powerful means of illustration of the grandeur, authority and skills or the noble and mighty. Again more of a skillful craftsman than a true creator, the artist chosen by the powerful was honored, ennobled and pampered but not really free. Aside from this privileged artistic clique, a growing population of “new” artists emerged. They couldn’t enter the sponsored royal academies because their style wouldn’t fit the cannon and their subjects were claimed too provocative. With their limited resources, they were forced to share their art studios with other artists. It was in these studios where a new type of esthetics started to blossom, one that put forward a different vision of the world.
In the end of the 19th century, Montmartre was the center of artistic life with art studios flourishing and more and more artists earning their living through art. In the 1860s, there were several thousands of painters living in Paris alone. The artists “cités” (groupings of artistic lodgments) and community spaces sharing the spirit of the Bohème multiplied. The shared ateliers, artistic workshops, hotels or cafés which served as an epicenter for the artists of the 19th century formed micro-societies grouped around influential artists who opened their workspaces to other creators and charismatic personas.
Besides being a real place where the creation of artwork actually took place, the art studio was also the universe where the fantasized identity of the artist was developed. Attending an atelier was the occasion of esthetic meetings and debates between painters and sculptors. Around the main artist, an inner circle of admirers always gathered in order to take in the creative process, discuss and learn.
The ateliers d’artistes have always played a key role in art history. One of the most famous ones where cubism was born, the Bateau Lavoir, was a cradle of modern art and a “central laboratory for painting” in the beginning of the 20th century.
Originally designed as a wine rotunda to be later re-erected as cheap studios for artists, La Ruche (The Beehive) got its name because it resembled a large beehive more than a normal dwelling for humans. In the early years of the 20th century, Apollinaire, Zadkine, Chagall, Jacob, Modigliani and Diego Rivera called the place home or visited it. Though its interior is not open to the public, La Ruche’s exterior alone is worth a visit for its paintings, sculptures, and photographs sharing a glimpse from its heyday.
An emblematic spot on the Montmartre horizon, the Cité “Montmartre aux Artistes” sparkles an extraordinary concentration of artistic activity. Founded in 1924, it hosts 180 studios which are also the homes of artists of different feather, such as painters, sculptors, musicians, writers, filmmakers, photographers and designers. Once a year Europe’s largest conglomeration of artists’ dwellings and workshops opens its “windows to the world” and invites you to enter their creative universe. Themed “Montmartre Celebrates Love”, 2013’s Open Days feature poetic journeys, screenings, concerts, comedy shows and open air exhibitions between 12 and 13 October. Don’t miss your chance to pay a visit!
Cité Montmartre Aux Artistes is at 189, Rue Ordener; Open days: 12 – 13 October 2013