On October 5, France’s Fondation du Patrimoine, in partnership with L’AiR Arts and Cité Falguière Associations, has launched «la collecte» on their signature crowdfunding platform to support the rehabilitation project of Atelier 11 Cité Falguière. Former studio of Gauguin, Foujita, Modigliani, and Soutine, for over 150 years it continues to host artists from all over the world. The project includes a restoration of the façade and renovations of the interior spaces, allowing the structure to continue welcoming artists and cultural professionals as an International Arts Research Residency.
We invite everyone to join the collective effort to preserve this living heritage of the Parisian artistic scene whose global significance is vital to understanding both art’s history and its living practice.
Since 2021, L’AiR Arts has been running a pilot residency program at Atelier 11 Cité Falguière to transition the 19th century artist atelier into an International Arts Research Residency of today.
Keeping the original purpose and the name, this multidisciplinary and experimental platform for contemporary projects is based on 4 pillars: intercultural exchange, research, professional development and creation. The individual self-directed residencies run in parallel to curated group programs and a diversified public programming, offering a unique experience connecting past and present, local and global.
During the pilot two years at Atelier 11, L'AiR Arts has welcomed nearly 70 artists and cultural professionals from over 35 different countries and hosted around 30 public and private events, collecting the invaluable feedback from the residents and the visitors to establish a proof of concept in preparation for the Atelier 11 renovation and reopening.
L'AiR Arts is excited to celebrate the one-year anniversary at its new permanent location, the historic Atelier 11 – the last surviving atelier of the prominent artists' community of Cité Falguière in Paris. A new emblematic home for L'AiR Arts, since August 2021 Atelier 11 operates as the International Arts Research Residency and welcomes local and international professionals for solo and duo projects, that run parallel to international group programs, partner residencies and events open to the general public. To preserve the architectural heritage of this remarkable building, L’AiR Arts, in partnership with Cité Falguière Association, is also working on an architectural project to restore and renovate the atelier in order to continue its artistic legacy within the contemporary culture.
Read some of the highlights from the past year below....
Over a year based at Atelier 11, L’AiR Arts has hosted nearly 50 local and international artists from over 30 countries. This includes 14 solo residents with 10 of them living at the Atelier. We also organized three group residencies (Photography, Drawing and In-situ) with 24 artists participating in professional exchange programs and additional 8 artists engaging in individual projects. Having provided refuge to creatives during the war-torn 20th century, in March-April 2022 Atelier 11 continued this tradition by welcoming an exiled artist from Ukraine - Maryna Semenkova. All residencies were either funded or subsidized by L’AiR Arts Association and its partners.
In September 2021, L'AiR Arts opened the doors of Atelier 11 for the first time as part of the European Heritage Days, welcoming more than 2000 people. Throughout the year, we organized 18 public and private events at the Atelier 11 and beyond: 7 open studios, 5 exhibitions, and 6 special events, including public workshops, talks and community programs. In solidarity with Ukraine, L'AiR Arts team hosted 3 solidarity events at the Atelier and were proud to present a carte blanche performance with Maryna Semenkova at the 2022 Les Rencontres de la Photographie in Arles. We were also pleased to see two of our residents at this year's edition of La Biennale di Venezia, the longest-running survey of contemporary art.
In addition to existing partners, over the last year L’AiR Arts has developed new partnerships with a number of cultural and academic institutions, including the Association Cité Falguière, Palazzo Monti, Paris College of Art, Espace Frans Krajcberg, the University of Kent and Galerie Huit in Arles. L’AiR Arts also assisted BBC Arts in filming the special episode on Modigliani and his life at Cité Falguière.
In collaboration with local and international artists and architects, L’AiR Arts Association has been coordinating an architectural project for the restoration and renovation of Atelier 11. The project is being developed by gh3 – a Toronto-based architecture, landscape and urban design practice, recognized with over 40 significant design awards. They will work in collaboration with local architects specializing in the restoration of French heritage sites and historical monuments. The renovation will result in a three-level, multi-functional contemporary space that will preserve the essence of the quintessential artist studio of Montparnasse.
Recognition and Support
On August 29th, after more than 60 years since the community efforts to protect the Cité Falguière site were mobilized, the Atelier 11 cultural heritage project finally became institutionally recognized, receiving support from the Heritage Foundation. The announcement was made in the presence of the Minister of Culture and Stéphane Bern, mentioning the Atelier 11 as the only project located in Paris among 100 historical properties across France to receive this award. The Heritage Foundation’s support will cover the restoration of the Atelier's exterior facades, preserving the architectural heritage of this remarkable building. Funding for the interior renovations and programming remain to be established.
New Identity - Same Mission
To embrace its commitment to contemporary arts within a historical perspective, L'AiR Arts launches a new identity celebrating Atelier 11 heritage. Just like the building itself that was built by artists for artists, the new logo was created by one of our artists-in-residence, Maryna Semenkova from Ukraine, in collaboration with a graphic designer from Lithuania, Marek Voida. Minimalist typography and eleven lines representing the historical structure, pull together L'AiR Arts, Atelier 11 and Cité Falguiere under one uniform brand, carrying on the legacy of the École de Paris into the 21st Century.
To continue Atelier’s artistic legacy within contemporary culture and to serve professional community and the public, L’AiR Arts and Cité Falguière Associations will continue to search for additional support from municipal, regional, national and international agencies as well as private foundations and individual donations.
It is very difficult to specify what foreigners are borrowing from us, and what we are borrowing from them.
On January 27th, 1925, the art critic André Warnod wrote these words in the Comoedia, thus encapsulating for the first time the complexity of the stakes within what he coined “École de Paris”.
In the 1920s, xenophobia infiltrated the Parisian art scene. Indeed, many exhibition reviews considered that foreign artists were being granted excessive visibility. Although a verdict for the Salon des Indépendants of 1922 was to favour artists installations according to alphabetical order, in 1924, the management committee opted for a segregation by nationality, thus separating French and foreign artists. This chauvinist move scandalized the participants and led some to withdraw such as Foujita, Lipchitz, Zadkine, Léger, arousing controversy in the press. Provoked by this event, the École de Paris stemmed from a desire to house the entire cosmopolitan artistic community that came to settle in Paris at the turn of the 20th century, thus igniting recognition of their involvement, and the impact of foreign artists on the French creative scene.
In spite of Modernism's foundation in agitation and scandal, this “École” is not a movement. It does not embody a unified aesthetic. It does not seek a plastic norm; it is in no way legislated. This is with exception in its hope for emancipation, its battle against discrimination, its intrinsic feelings of rejection in systems proliferating freedoms of creation and of the individual. Jules Pascin, Amedeo Modigliani, Chaïm Soutine, Constantin Brancusi, Sonia Delaunay, Marc Chagall or Chana Orloff, despite their visual eclecticism, are linked to the stories and to the common ideals of a generation of international artists.
Despite ‘École de Paris’ quickly slipping into the realm of positive discrimination, this multicultural and multidisciplinary meeting of creators, painters, sculptors, writers and photographers provided fertile ground for some of the most influential works of art of the 20th century. Although seemingly judged as superficial, this association of artists encouraged a positive change of attitudes towards academicism – a fruitful osmosis. This creative energy brought about a clash of styles, languages and cultures. This was a real testimony to the power of integration from the artistic community at its peak.
Image by an anonymous photographer capturing the prominent members of the artistic community of Montparnasse, Paris, 1923
However, the “École de Paris” was born in turmoil and consequently challenged. No one could prevent the effects of war, a major economic crisis, and that the fear of the other would take over the features of the other. The rise of nationalism was both the motor as well as the adversary of the essence of “École de Paris” – provoking a return to the stability of ancient traditions. The uninterrupted innovation of art at the heart of turbulence appeared uncertain whilst beholding a permanent glimmer of hope.
Questions persist on the ability for Paris to establish itself as a leader in the renewal of French culture and its role on the international stage. This was due to the exposure of the fragility of its democracy, and the reigning doubt on its unifying ideologies. Indeed, how can we identify a creation representative of human value, when all aspirations to humanism are knocked down by global catastrophes instigated by humans? How to legitimize and guide the artistic productions created within our destructive societies? Do artists have any agency at all? History and its questions repeat themselves: art is continually undergoing the effects of societal instabilities. Therefore, recognizing history and creation as powers we learn from, are necessary. The past and the “École de Paris”, are not archives to be placed in quarantine. The present is an active history that art proves intelligible.
The avant-gardes of yesterday and the explorations of today must be recognized as tools for understanding our societies and actors of historical, political, cultural, and societal change. Beyond the experience of personal aesthetics, art carries a civic responsibility, a purpose of creative unity in the face of adversity and chaos. By considering art through its relationship to society and community, perhaps we are allowing poets, artists, and thinkers to exercise a civilizing function. That is, to participate in a revitalization of humanity which resonates with relevance. What has been called modernity is therefore not solely characterized by its aesthetics but more importantly its ability to distill the old into the new, to break down the dichotomies of the past and the modern, of the grounded and the distant, from the self and from the other.
The modernity and contemporaneity are not tabula rasa but states of availability, transversality, and uniqueness. Let us retain from the “École de Paris” the revolutionary potential of the artistic community as an organic synthesis of tradition and innovation. Let's grant art the freedom, plurality, and vitality it requires to forge new bonds that unite individual human experience and collective existences. Internationalization is a mutual process; with culture as its medium.
Written in French by Juliette Gaufreteau, Sorbonne University
Translation by Lily Pouydebasque, University College London
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Cover Image: L'AiR Arts residents, Multidisciplinary Program, January 2020