WHY DO WE STILL TALK ABOUT MONTMARTRE TODAY?

The fame of this place, a melting pot of creativity and a haven for uprooted and unorthodox art, still represents the Bohemian spirit of yesteryear, when it was the cradle of some of the most important pictorial movements of the 19th century. But what factors met in this neighbourhood to become what it was?

Jules Grün. Motmartre's Song, 1900 Litographic proof for a cover © Private colection (image from caixaforum.es)

Montmartre was an independent population, which, in 1860, was added to the city of Paris to become its eighteenth district. The proliferation of brothels, cabarets and show halls of scant reputation made the neighbourhood a very badly considered area that, nevertheless, strongly attracted some artists. The reasons were diverse, but above all, gentrification phenomenon stands out. Napoleon III, together with his leading urban designer Baron Haussmann, wanted to make Paris the most beautiful city in Europe. As a result, there was an ordering of the centre and the displacement of groups of citizens who were relocated to nearby towns, as happened in Montmartre.

Maxime Dethomas, “Poster Montmartre”, 1897 (image from nataliamartinlago.com)

This hill was also the main stage of the Franco-Prussian War, which took place between 1870 and 1871, and the rise of the revolutionary movement "the Paris Commune". Turned into a battlefield, chance made that its name, "mount of martyrs" gained meaning after the numerous casualties in the French army. At the end of the conflict, in 1873, the National Assembly agreed to build the Basilica of Sacré-Cœur in homage to the fallen. Today this temple is an emblem of the neighbourhood that shines on the hill illuminated by the sun and can be seen from the old city.

Pierre Marie Louis Vidal, Cover of “La Vie à Montmartre” (detail), 1897. Litography © Private collection / Photographer: Elsevier Stokmans Fotografie (image from caixaforum.es)

We can imagine that an atmosphere full of meaning like the one that reigned at the end of the 19th century, in a marginal neighbourhood, punished by war, decadent, indecent and proud was a natural refuge for those who wanted to live outside the system. They wanted to be free from the confining of liberalism, the formalities of high society, the artifices of Parisian pomposity and life away from the real vital pulse that connects the human passions, good and bad, in an environment where they can run freely. To all this ideological context joins, of course, money, because survival is easier and cheaper in a neighbourhood of a bad reputation.

View of the exhibition room in CaixaForum (image from caixaforum.es)

This set of elements constituted the breeding ground of an unprecedented cultural flowering. The artists met and shared experiences around the Bateau-Lavoir, a building that served as a welcome centre for many creators and where Picasso and Modigliani were at the beginning. Montmartre and, on the opposite bank of the Seine, Montparnasse were the cradle of a creative interest that fed back. Pissarro and Johan Jongkind, and then Renoir, Van Gogh, Degas, Matisse, Toulouse-Lautrec, Gen Paul, Villon and many others set at that time several associations of artists and consolidated a link today inseparable between the neighbourhood and art. With their determination and their desire to be above the established canons, they managed to write a chapter of their own in the history of world art.

We recommend you take advantage of the last days of the exhibition "Toulouse-Lautrec and the spirit of Montmartre" at CaixaForum Madrid, to relive a part of that time and immerse yourself in an episode of history that brings together 350 works from around the world (untill May 19th).

 

In Art Madrid, we love art in all its aspects. Therefore, on the occasion of our 15th anniversary and thanks to Cooltourspain.com , visitors at Art Madrid’20 will have the possibility to enjoy a free guided tour of urban art to discover the street art hidden by Lavapiés, one of the most multicultural and colourful neighbourhoods of Madrid.

With the code ARTMADRID2020

and your ticket to the Art Madrid’20 fair, you can enjoy "Street art Tour Lavapiés" for free, on days 26th, 27th and 28th of February at 11:00 a.m. The capacity is limited, so do not doubt, book your place at Cooltourspain.com Once the confirmation is received, you just have to go with your open eyes to enjoy this magnificent experience.

Street art is the expression of art in public spaces either in the form of murals in restored buildings; graffiti; street painting or curated artistic actions. What are the backstories of each artist? What are the social issues affecting our city? This social, cultural and educational project was born in 2016 to answer these questions and show the message hidden by the works of art of so many national and international artists who have painted the Embajadores neighbourhood. It became the first daily street art tour in Madrid.

Cooltourspain will show you the Spanish capital in an alternative way and its guides will share their knowledge about the best street art in the Lavapiés and Malasaña areas. In the same way, its Foundation collaborates with non-profit projects and local associations so that people at risk of social exclusion can learn the techniques used by Madrid graffiti artists. The tour lasts two hours and begins at the Valle Inclán Theater Entrance.