So the exhibit at the Musée de Montmartre just over the rim of the hill behind my building covered territory familiar to me. The exhibit is called Artists in Montmartre: Mythical Studios and Sites. There are ten of them, ten addresses, and I know more than half of them well and the others by reputation.
|Suzanne Valadon, Autoportrait 1927|
|Bateau Lavoir, before it burned down|
|Sunset Over the Adriatic, painted by a donkey|
|Edouard Lefèvre, Moulin de la Galette|
There’s one site in the show that isn’t there anymore: the Medrano Circus. It was still standing when I moved to Montmartre. A round building with a facade, it had been closed for years, and was ultimately torn down in 1974 to build a modern apartment building with a supermarket on its ground floor. Very handy if you run out of spaghetti sauce, but far less quaint. If it had survived one more year, it would have been one hundred years old and become a protected landmark. Toulouse-Lautrec painted the circus acts there often, as did Degas, Renoir, Picasso, Léger and Van Dongen, all fascinated by the theme of clowns and acrobats.
The other sites are just addresses to me. One on rue Caulaincourt was the home of expatriate Swiss artist Steinlen, who painted the ubiquitous black cat poster for the Montmartre cabaret of the same name. The address on rue Véron was home to Adolphe Willette, and for 27 years my old apartment overlooked the Square Willette at the base of the Sacré-Coeur stairway. The last address is on rue Lepic, directly behind my new digs, where Eugène Delâtre lived. His name wasn’t familiar, but his pen-and-ink works of Montmartre certainly were.
And there you have it: both the art exhibit at the Musée de Montmartre and my ramblings about my neighborhood. The show is worth a detour because you’ll see grouping of artists you won’t see anywhere else.
|La Poste des Abbesses, Utrillo|
lieux et ateliers mythiques
Musée de Montmartre
12 rue Cortot; 18è
Until Jan 20, 2019 (Valadon studio all year)
12 & 6-9 € (free under 10 years of age)