Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Just off the rue de la Tombe-Isseoire, you can find the Villa Seurat, with its little houses built for artists and sculptors. It was the home of Georges Seurat, and Henry Miller also lived here, from where he wrote such masterpieces as Tropic of Cancer and Max and the White Phagocytes. As he describes Villa Seurat:
"The whole street is given up to quiet, joyous work. Every house contains a writer, painter, musician, sculptor, dancer, or actor. It is such a quiet street and yet there is such activity going on, silently, becomingly, should I not say reverently too? This is how it is on my street, but there are hundreds of such streets in Paris. There is a constant army of artists at work, the largest of any city in the world. This is what makes Paris, this vast group of men and women devoted to the things of the spirit. This is what animates the city, makes it the magnet of the cultural world."--Henry Miller
This cultural magnet was destroyed during World War II and with the construction of the towering and incongruous Montparnasse tower, the tallest office building in Paris (which has a law that buildings can only be built to a certain height, in order to keep the city ‘intimate’—not sure how Montparnasse slipped through!). But the area continues to draw the culturati and is a lively, café- and theatre-filled quartier.
And so I met my artist friend for raclette and a complimentary kir here in the midst of Montparnasse, not far from the hotel (where Sartre and deBeauvoir lived for a time, by the way). After a catch-up and rabbit-trail-laden conversation, we ditched our original plans to museum hop, and went to her studio instead. What a delightful time seeing her artwork, brainstorming and dreaming, and sensing another piece of the puzzle of arts ministry going into place. Stay tuned for that one…
Late again getting home, I merged back into the black-robed Parisians in rush hour, thankful that this part of French life is almost over for me.
So now I’m packing and consulting alternate routes to get to the airport. France is calling for a general strike tomorrow, and that will surely make things interesting in the morning…stay tuned for that one too!