The studio where modern art giants like Amedeo Modigliani and Paul Gauguin lived and worked before becoming famous has launched a crowdfunding campaign for a major restoration to continue its mission as a home for international artists.
Atelier 11, located in an alleyway named Cité Falguière in southern Paris and constructed in the 1860s, has not undergone many renovations since the end of the 19th century. L’AiR Arts, a nonprofit, has now launched a campaign, with another nonprofit using the Cité Falguière name, seeking €150,000 ($158,000) to make needed repairs to one of the oldest artists’ residences in the world.
So far, the project has raised €2,540 (about $2,670), which is on top of a €105,000 ($110,562) donation from Mission Patrimoine, a national organization backed by France’s Culture Ministry. Donations are being overseen by France’s Fondation du Patrimoine, or Heritage Foundation.
“The facades and interior, in a worrying state and showing numerous cracks, now require major restorations and a major overhaul of the structure on its three levels,” L’AiR Arts wrote in its plea for donations. “Many elements are original, notably the typical workshop windows, the restoration of which represents a significant cost.”
The historic workshop will be restored with “as many original elements as possible,” including the preservation of its wooden frame, while the stairs and mezzanine will be adjusted and leveled, and the glass roof retained but adapted to better provide thermal insulation. All interior fittings and finishes from painting to electricity and plumbing will be brought up to standard or completely renovated.
Artists and members of the community have been trying to get the building classified as a historic building since the 1960s without success.
The atelier began life in 1861 when the sculptor Jules Ernest Bouillot, an assistant to Alexandre Falguière, bought the plot of land in the hopes of turning it into affordable studios for artists. He began renting a number of ateliers on that plot of land to artists in the mid 1870s.
The alleyway and its ateliers eventually became collectively known as Cité Falguière in honor of Falguière. Atelier 11 was just one of the ateliers at the site.
Gauguin began studying sculpture from Bouillot in 1877 in one of the ateliers, according to L’AiR Arts. During his time there, Gauguin is known to have made a marble bust of his son, Émile.
Later, Modigliani left a studio known as La Ruche, constructed in 1900 in Montparnasse, for the atelier in Cité Falguière. It was at the Atelier 11 that Modigliani began experimenting with sculpture, guided by the Romanian sculptor Constantin Brâncuși, his neighbor. (Modigliani shared his atelier with the painter Chaïm Soutine, who was born in the Russian Empire in what is now Belarus, according to L’AiR Arts.)
The Cité Falguière ateliers faced hardship in the aftermath of World War I and World War II and, ultimately, most of the ateliers were destroyed to create residential buildings—except for Atelier 11.
“The heart of this project is to preserve this heritage in a living and active way. We don’t want to turn this place into a museum but for it to remain a place for artists to come and work and be a place of creation,” Jessica Chilloh, who is coordinating the renovation project, told The Guardian.
“We hope that the residency program we have established for contemporary artists… keep[s] the artistic spirit of the École de Paris alive.”
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