At Large  November 1, 2023  Rebecca Schiffman

Famed Studio of Gaugin and Modigliani to Be Restored

Photo: L’AiR Arts

Atelier 11 in the Cité Falguière 

Paris in the 19th and 20th centuries was known for its artist communes, where many artists would live and work together in the same block, neighborhood, or even building. Such was the case for Cité Faiguière in Montparnasse that was home to Atelier 11, a studio where Amedeo Modigliani, Chaïm Soutine, Constantin Brancusi, and Paul Gauguin, among many others, worked. Cité Faiguière is also known as the birthplace of the School of Paris, referring to the artists who worked in Paris in the first half of the 20th century. 

Atelier 11 is one of the few historic studio spaces in the area that was not destroyed in the 1960s and 70s or turned into a private home. The current owners of Atelier 11 are trying to raise money to keep the studio as a working and living space for artists. They recently signed agreements with nonprofit organizations L’AiR Arts and Cité Faiguière to help bring it back to its original glory. 

Mission Patrimone, the national organization backed by France’s ministry of culture has donated €105,000 to the restoration of Atelier 11’s facade, and has started a fundraising campaign on its site, as it needs a further €105,000 to complete the facade restoration. The association has been quoted as saying it will need at least  €1 million to work on the interior, as Atelier 11 has not undergone any updating since its original construction over a hundred years ago. 

Photo: L'AiR Arts

Chaïm Soutine, L'Atelier de l'artiste a la cité Falugière (1915-16)

Chaïm Soutine, a member of the commune, had painted the facade while he lived at Cité Faiguière, which has helped restorers to understand how it originally looked. According to the Fondation du Patrimoine, the facades and interior are in a “worrying state” and show many cracks. It will require major restorations and an overhaul of the three-storied structure. 

“The heart of this project is to preserve this heritage in a living and active way," Jessica Chilloh, the coordinator of the project, told The Guardian. "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."

Cité Faiguière was built in 1861 by artists, for artists. Jules-Ernst Bouillot, a sculptor and patron, commissioned Alexandre Falguière (1831-1900), also a sculptor, to build thirty small workshops that would offer artists a cheap place to rent for their studios. These ateliers were composed of wood and metal, with large glass windows that allowed larger sculptures to be moved in and out of the buildings. 

Gauguin set up his studio in the commune in 1877. Later, Modigliani settled in Cité Faiguière where he met the Russian poet Anna Akhmatova, who became his mistress. From there, Brancusi, who traveled from Romania, and Soutine, who emigrated from Russia, settled into Cité Faiguière. Soutine and Modigliani shared Atelier 11. 

The studio was home to over a hundred French and international artists. The campaign to restore it will help it become, once again, a hub for artistic exchange and expression for a new generation of artists.

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