From the Belle Epoch at the end of the 19th century till the outbreak of the Second World War, Paris was home to some of the most influential artists in Modern Art. Impressionism, Dadaism, Fauvism, Surrealism, Cubism, Expressionism: the styles rolled like waves through Paris from Montmartre to Montparnasse creating in their wake a mythology of starving artists and pretty models epitomised by Murger in his novel Scènes de la Vie Bohème which was set to music by Puccini.
The picturesque streets of Montmartre and the vibrant cafés and nightclubs of the quarter provided ample material for the artists of the day such as Utrillo and Renoir; but for the legions of tourists who visit Paris each year, the focal point of today’s Montmartre is the Place du Tertre.
In this photograph, I was able to leverage off a photo-shoot using the two models in the centre of the frame. The photographer is out of camera but the woman to the right of the frame, who seems to be echoing the pose of the standing model, was an absolute bonus.
Today, tourists flock to Paris to find their Vie Bohème and the artists of the Place du Tertre do their best to accommodate them.
Who knows, perhaps one day this portrait will be worth as much as one by Amadeo Modigliani, the archetypal starving artist who prowled the cafés of Montmartre and Montparnasse, sketching patrons for the price of a drink.
Whether you use a brush or a palette knife, the essential piece of equipment for the artists of the Place du Tertre is headgear.
The Moulin Rouge (below), was immortalized by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec who, in turn, was immortalized by Hollywood in a film entitled, not surprisingly, “Moulin Rouge” and starring José Ferrer as the diminutive artist.
Perhaps the most famous art gallery in the world is the Louvre in Paris, and one of the most famous exhibits in the Louvre is the statue of Venus de Milo. Just why this broken statue should command such respect is a matter of frequently voiced opinion…
So, Paris may no longer be the hub of painting and sculpture that it once was but the illusion is kept alive by the tourists who come expecting to find a vibrant art scene, the local and immigrant artists who find inspiration in the famous old quarters and the galleries who preserve the history and promote the new. There will always be art in Paris because Paris is just so picturesque.