Site of custom-built artists studios from 1900
Optional if energetic
I’ve made the next stop, the Cité des Fusains (point 11 on the map), an option as (a), there is not a lot to see and (b), you have to go further steeply downhill which you will then have to subsequently climb back up; point 11, therefore, depends on your enthusiasm or energy levels. If you do decide to go to the next stop, here is how you get there.
Cité des Fusains (The drawing charcoal city or estate).
Having seen Toulouse-Lautrec’s studio from the eastern side of Rue Caulaincourt, now carefully cross over at the pedestrian crossing. There is a traffic lights controlled crossing here.
Parisian traffic does not automatically stop at normal pedestrian crossings; some drivers see stopping as an option, preferring to impatiently surge around, in front and behind you as you cross. If there is a red light indicating traffic to stop then cars at least will normally respect this but beware of any kind of two wheeled vehicle either cycle, scooter or motorbike.
Head down the steep Rue Tourlaque for about 50 metres. Cross over Rue Damrémont with the same precaution. Continue on Rue Tourlaque, still downhill. You will see to your right two buildings that look like greenhouses which appear to hover over the street. This, as a painted panel above a door a little further down informs us, is the Cité des Fusains.
This complex of studios was custom built in 1900 from recuperated material from the 1889 World Fair. The 1889 event also saw the building of another (at the time) temporary structure: The Eiffel Tower.
André Derain at the Cité des Fusains
The most famous artist to have had a studio here is André Derain who was resident from 1906 – 1910. Derain was one of the leading artists of the ‘Fauves’ (‘Wild Beasts’) movement along with Matisse and Vlamnick. This group, who exposed their works in room VII of the Salon d’Automne 1905, were considered at the time by expert opinion as both shocking and ridiculous.
I have a brief description of the Fauves on the Demoiselles d’Avignon page which deals with the artists and movements that influenced Picasso’s painting.
The Fauves used colour to express and evoke the excitement they felt at experiencing the spectacular Meditereanean light around Collioure in the South of France. Art historians now see the Fauves’ insistence on colour and their moving away from a naturalistic, representative style as an important movement in the development of modern art.
Derain was one of the first artists, along with Matisse who was his friend and co-Fauvist, to appreciate the integrity and expressive power of non-European ‘primitive’ art.
Derain and Picasso pay a visit to the Paris Ethnographic Museum
Derain rented a studio here in 1906, (remember Picasso’s Demoiselles d’Avignon was finished in 1907). His proximity to Picasso and the Bateau Lavoir artists was an important component in the constellation of artistic influences and events that Picasso was able to draw together and articulate with his famous painting.
Whist still in the process of considering the final form of the Demoiselles, Picasso and Derain visited the Ethnographic Museum at the Trocadero in Paris and thus could examine at close quarters many examples of ‘primitive’ art. Picasso later recalled this visit with Derain as a revelation.
Another artist who had a base here from 1911 – 1947 was Pierre Bonnard. Like Toulouse-Lautrec he appears fascinated by women. His portraits, some of which are sensual adorations of the female form, contrast with the more down to earth, penetrating and sympathetic observations of Toulouse-Lautrec.
These latter capture more accurately the particular mood or condition of his subject at that precise moment. Whilst Bonnard was regularly locked into an erotic portrayal of young women, Toulouse-Lautrec does his often prostitute subjects the service of being honest about the conditions of their lives and, tries at least, to explore how they might feel about them.
If you managed to make it down here well done; no doubt by the time you get back up the hill you will perhaps be in need of refreshment. There are not many cafés on this section but there are plenty on the Rue des Abbesses which is coming up. In order to get there we have to go past Vincent and Theo van Gogh’s studio in Montmartre, which is point 12 and the next stop on the ‘In the Footsteps of the Artists’ circuit.
For wheelchair users, please return to point 1 on disabled route.