"When good Americans die, they go to Paris" - Oscar Wilde

Sunday, November 21, 2010

meeting the artists of montmartre

This weekend artists in Montmartre opened up their studios for the general public. Though on any given day you can trek around la butte and check out artists working on their paintings in the streets, the whole thing, unfortunately, has an insincere feeling. Of the 40 or so artists painting in the square, their works seem almost identical. Paintings of the Sacré Coeur, the Eiffel Tower, and Notre Dame line the streets in a not-so-subtle pandering to tourists (not that I can blame them; these are the money-makers after all).

But yesterday was different. Yesterday, I (and the whole of Paris) was invited into the real world of Montmartre artists. Often the artists studios doubled as their apartments, so the whole thing had a very intimate feeling. Best of all, the crowds stayed at a moderate size so that at each studio/home we entered, the artist him/herself was waiting and ready to answer any questions about his/her works. Even if we didn't have questions, the artist usually couldn't help but explain his/her method, inspiration, and history. Though I enjoyed the art, I have to admit that my favorite part was getting to visit places I wouldn't have the chance to otherwise. The apartments were amazing, and each one very unique. My favorite was a three-story apartment (though not as huge as it might sound since the building itself was so narrow). The stairs to the second floor wound around in a spiral so tight that I had to turn sideways to make it through. One section of the second floor had a circular glass ceiling, that revealed that the room above it held bookshelves piled with mounds of, well, books. The walls themselves had apparently been used sometimes in place of canvas. In several sections you could make out faint sketches of human figures. I felt guilty for being more intrigued by the architecture and history of the building than the artworks that hung on the walls (though the artist kindly indulged my curiosity and explained all the renovations that had been made to the building).

I loved exploring a part of Paris that I rarely (if ever) have reason to visit. Though I couldn't take photos of the artworks/studios for obvious reasons, I took a few photos of the neighborhood along the way.

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