Built between 1924 and 1926, the Villa Seurat is a group of remarkable artist’s homes and studios, eight of them built by the Modernist architect André Lurçat. 1920’s Paris – and more particularly Montparnasse – was home to an extraordinary community of artists and writers of all nationalities. They frequent the salons of Gertrude Stein, gather at Shakespeare and Company – located in Odeon at the time and run by Sylvia Beach – and drink and dance at the infamous cafés of Montparnasse – La Coupole, le Dome, la Closerie des Lilas, and the cantine and academy of Marie Vassilieff, the Villa Vassilieff. Today, a walk down this small cul-de-sac is a treat for any fans of modernist architecture, and delving into its enthralling history, and that of its residents (Soutine, Henry Miller – who wrote Tropic of Cancer here, Anais Nin, Dali, Chana Orloff, Jean Lurçat to name but a few) is to take a step into the heart of Paris during ‘Les Années Folles’.
I visited today and was lucky to be able to have a guided visit inside No 7 bis, the atelier of sculptor Chana Orloff, today lived in and lovingly restored by her grandchildren. This house and studio was designed by her friend Auguste Perret in 1926. The double height workshop and showroom allowed for her monumental sculptures. It was destroyed under the Nazi occupation during WWII (she was Jewish) but she bought it back in 1945. I found the story of her life and work extremely compelling, along with those of her friends and contemporaries – Modigliani, Soutine, Zadkine and Chagall, amongst many others. The studio is open by appointment, or on special open weekends such as this one. (it was part of the programme during Paris Face Cachée 2017).
Even if you are not able to go inside any of the studios, a short stroll down the Villa Seurat is a must for lovers of modernist art and architecture alike.
For a full list of architects and residents of the Villa Seurat check the wikipedia page.
- Villa Seurat, 75014 Paris. metro: Alesia