Posts Tagged ‘picasso’
During its avant-garde heyday (1875 to 1905) art exhibitions and festivities flourished in Montmartre, giving birth to Dada, Surrealism and other unorthodox art forms. Montmartre’s gifted artists were determined to stun the status quo with their daring approaches, while its elaborate cabarets catered to patrons looking for a bit of risqué entertainment. This was the place to be in fin-de-siècle Paris if you were an artist, writer or counter-culture bohemian (I guess the late 19th century equivalent of a hipster).
Several creative associations were formed in and around Montmartre. There were many people involved in these who eventually became world-renowned artists such as Vincent van Gogh, Henri Matisse, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Pierre Brissaud, Maurice Utrillo, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec as well as the American expatriate Langston Hughes. Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani and a few other struggling artists were content to live in Le Bateau-Lavoir, a commune, in the years between 1904 and 1909.
Even after the so-called heyday visitors to Montmartre mostly consisted of aspiring artists, struggling poets and unpublished authors. This list included the young Earnest Hemingway and his newly married wife, Hadley Richardson. Back then, Montmartre was a turn of the century artistic stronghold with lingering vestiges of “La Boheme”. Imagine a congregation of cabaret singers, pimps and vagabond painters sporting goatees and odd-sized berets.
The Montmartre of Today
In some ways, this Paris neighborhood remains the same. There still are traces of alternative culture, but you may have to head further downhill towards Pigalle, into the 9th district, to find some of the racier nightclubs.
Contemporary Montmartre has become one of the biggest tourist attractions of Paris. According to city officials, more than 6 million tourists visit this mecca of bygone bohemian culture every year. During peak season days, around 18,000 people walk up its winding streets, cramming the Place du Tertre – where many painters still set up their easels (the Dali museum and the Montmartre museums are nearby too). And they don’t mind elbowing their way up the constricted steps to get a glimpse of the Sacre-Coeur and to gaze down upon the remarkable and incomparable cityscape of Paris.
Just off the Place de la Concorde is the Musée national de l’Orangerie, which houses the eight of the Nymphéas, the renowned series by Claude Monet. These paintings were given to the French nation by the artist after World War I as a celebration of peace. Indeed, the large sweeping paintings, bathed in the soft overhead light, bring about a certain meditative calm in the visitor. In the halls of the Orangerie below the the Nymphéas, one can see an extensive collection of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings by Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Henri Rousseau and others.