L A VIE BO­HÈME The cor­nu­copia of ex­tra­or­di­nary artists, Mont­martre de­fined a time when art was all en­cap­su­lat­ing. By Sharmita Sum­mugam.

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) - - The Culture Bazaar -

Ihave al­ways wished Woody Allen’s Mid­night In Paris would hap­pen to me, but the era I’d love to go back in time to would be 1904 – the year a young Cata­lan painter, Pablo Pi­casso, and his group of artist friends de­scended upon the bo­hemian streets of Mont­martre. What was it that drew those ef­fer­ves­cent artists to the very top of that famed hill in Paris? Was it the bril­liant red lights of spin­ning wind­mills at the Moulin de la Galette? The steep never-end­ing stair­ways that led to shady, cramped lit­tle bars? Those lively can-can girls in frilly tu­tus, teas­ing men with high kicks of their long legs? Or per­haps the colour­ful back­drop of cafes and peo­ple, life of Mont­martre as it is?

The al­lure of Mont­martre that also se­duced many other artists (in­clud­ing Henri Matisse, An­dré Derain, Amedeo Modigliani, Vin­cent van Gogh, Henri de ToulouseLautrec) is a fas­ci­nat­ing bit of his­tory that has cap­ti­vated and in­spired gen­er­a­tions of cre­ative minds. It was the end of an era, of deca­dence that de­fined the Belle Époque. New forms and tech­niques of paint­ing were be­ing dis­cov­ered, bo­hemia was at its great­est, and artists from all over the world were mak­ing their way to this lit­tle vil­lage brim­ming with life.

Mont­martre was the heart of bo­hemia; there was a sense of artis­tic self-con­scious­ness that has come to char­ac­terise what Mont­martre was. The lib­er­tine life­styles led by artists filled their imag­i­na­tions with won­drous sto­ries, which were then painted on can­vases. It was the be­gin­ning of an artis­tic revo­lu­tion and Mont­martre was the place to be. The back­drop, the ev­ery­day life of this charm­ing vil­lage, was a source of in­spi­ra­tion in its own right. It was painted through prisms of emo­tions that each of th­ese in­di­vid­ual artists was experiencing. “My in­ner self, is bound to be in my can­vas, since I’m the one do­ing it ... What­ever I do, it’ll be there. In fact, there’ll be too much of it. It’s all the rest that is the prob­lem!” said Pi­casso of emo­tions and art with Mont­martre in mind.

Van Gogh, Edgar De­gas, Pierre-Au­guste Renoir, and Toulouse-Lautrec all trick­led into Mont­martre be­fore Sal­vador Dalí, Pi­casso, Derain, Matisse, and oth­ers of their gen­er­a­tion ar­rived. It was there that Renoir painted “Moulin de la Galette”, Van Gogh sketched the view from his at­tic win­dow, and Pi­casso cre­ated “Le Lapin Ag­ile (Har­lequin With Glass)” in this won­drous at­mos­phere. There was a buzz of kalei­do­scopic cre­ativ­ity with writ­ers, pain­ters, dancers, and mu­si­cians in­flu­enc­ing one an­other, col­lab­o­rat­ing and cre­at­ing. It was a flurry of ex­cite­ment and th­ese panoramic scenes were all de­picted in the early works of Pi­casso, Matisse, De­rian, and Ge­orges Braque. Some say it was the birth of mod­ern art it­self. “Veg­etable Gar­dens in Mont­martre” by Vin­cent van Gogh

The bo­hemian vil­lage of Mont­martre

“Cary­atid” by Amedeo Modigliani, 1913-1914

Sal­vador Dalí

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