Jan 13

Paris: (Free) Art, Art Everywhere

by in art, france, paris

le mur des je t'aimeFree art is quite literally everywhere in Paris, and while it’s easy to spend too much money in this glittery city, it is also quite easy to spend your time roaming the streets and discovering free hidden art in every nook & cranny, which is really how I spend my happiest hours here.

I’m an expert wanderer and my direction is often guided by public & street art & open-air markets. Recently, I stumbled across some fantastic public art including the whimsical Stravinsky Fountain in Beaubourg (4th arr.), a public Picasso sculpture in St. Germain (also in the 4th) and Le mur des je t’aime in Montmartre (18th arr.).

I am sure the Stravinsky Fountain, located next to the Centre Pompidiou, is token art meant to soothe the souls of dejected tourists who refuse to wait 120 minutes to enter the modern art DSC_6088museum next door. These 16 bright and fanciful sculptures spew water across Place Stravinsky, a popular meeting point for tourists and one of the happiest and most colourful pieces of public art in Paris.

Pablo Picasso, the inventor of Cubism, and Guillaume Apollinaire, the creator of Surrealism, met in 1905, became good friends, and between them, set the stage twentieth-century art and literature in Europe. Not long after WWII, the municipal government of Paris asked Picasso to create a sculpture in honour of his friend and fellow Dadist, who died at the age of 37 of the Spanish flu.  In short, the conservative city council of Paris didn’t want to give Picasso complete creative license over the piece (!); Pablo threw a years-long hissy fit, the city eventually relented and, fed-up as he was, he handed over a bronze bust of his then-lover Dora Maar. The Tete de Femme (Dora Maar) now sits in the Square Laurent Prache, on the grave of Guillaume Apollinaire just behind the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés (arguably the oldest church in Paris).

Le mur des je t’aime is a monument to love, in the city of love, in the lovely quartier of Montmartre. Le mur is unmissable on the way to Sacre Coeur, and is located in Square Jean Rictus just steps away from Métro Abbesses; the perfect place to rest your already weary feet before climbing to the basilica, the highest point in Paris.

Some of these little facts I discovered while on a recent Urban Adventures tour in Paris; a lovely afternoon full of little-known facts about the most visited city in the world, Paris.

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2 Responses to “Paris: (Free) Art, Art Everywhere”

  1. From David:

    I agree, the best parts of Paris are its free things.
    120 minutes wait to get into Pompidou? Were you unlucky or what? I never waited more than 10 minutes.

    Also, did you know that Picasso’s head behind St-Germain-des-Prés church has an interesting (unfortunately, I forgot parts of it). It was stolen a few years (decades?) ago. It was thought to be lost forever, and was found a short while later in a ditch in the countryside.
    David recently posted…BeynacMy Profile

    Posted on January 14, 2013 at 1:58 pm #
    • From jeanette:

      Hi David,

      Thanks for your comment! The very long line at the Centre Pompidou could well have been due to the Dali exhibit which opened in November. Would loooove to see this still but I am just not up for the very long wait …

      And, yes, you’re right, the bronze bust of Dora Maar was stolen in 1999, eventually recovered and returned to the Abbey. Picasso actually cast 4 of these busts: one sits at a museum near Basel, Switzerland and the other two remained in the Picasso family until the artist’s grand-daughter sold one to an unknown buyer in 2006.


      Posted on January 14, 2013 at 2:15 pm #

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