Art Free Paris

La vie bohême – Bohemian life

59 Rivoli stairs parisThere’s “artsy-fartsy”, and there’s what we call in French “Bobo” meaning “bourgeois-bohême”…meaning, well, “artsy-fartsy”! And then, there are real artists who don’t always come from affluent families who can afford to pay for a studio in Montmartre where they can smoke hashish and pretend to philosophize on contemporary works that are too main-streeam, maaaan, and don’t dig into the real meaning of life, maaan. Yeah, well, don’t begrudge them, they can’t really dig the real meaning of life high on the hill in Montmartre in a lofty studio when they never had to earn their bread and butter…

It’s all figurative bullshit any way.

The real artists are niched in little pockets of society, and they band together in hopes of surviving and being able to create their art.

Paris artist squat

You’ll find one such pocket at 59 rue de Rivoli, where an entire building has finally been given by the city of Paris to a band of bohemians.

Here’s how the story goes… For ten years #59 rue Rivoli was an empty building, serving no one, and the city was not doing anything with it. Scandalous!
Ten years ago in 1999, it became occupied, by a bunch of artists who broke in through the back window and made it their place of work, place of living, place of exposition. A squat.

artist paints

 But the building needed major work done on it, and the artists certainly couldn’t finance that. Under the menace of expulsion the artists pleaded to the mayor for help who made a promise to repair and legitimize their squat. In 2006 the artists left the building in the hands of renovators, and after a two years of waiting, were able to re-enter the building, but this time trough the front door, and Mr Delanoë, the mayor gave them the key.
59 Rivoli squat before
59 Rivoli after

The building is open to the public for exposition without charge. You can wander the halls on each floor and see what the artists are creating, you can even meet some of the artists if they happen to be around. And you can buy their art as well.

Although they don’t have to pay rent, they do have expenses to pay, such as heat, water, electricity and taxes for the entire building, and in Paris these prices can be astronomical. Anyone can help. There is a place to offer donations at the entry of the building, or you can support them by being a card-carrying member of their supporters! Check their website for details, their story (in French) and a list of resident artists :
painting artist 59 Rivoli
The building is open to visiters Tuesday to Sunday from 1pm to 8pm, on Saturdays from 11am to 8pm.

59 rivoli painting faces

Visit, and see what it’s like for real Parisian artists, and not that artsy-fartsy fake stuff. There are various styles and mediums, and if you don’t understand (or like) all of them, you can at least appreciate the struggle they have gone through to have a space of their own.

Anges de la ronciere

I met artist Agnès de la Roncière who’s work I found quite beautiful. She also has some works at the gallery Albert Ankri on 45 rue Montmartre in the 9th. Agnès has her own website at :

Anges de la ronciere artiste Anges de la ronciere artiste

1 Comment

Leave a thought or two!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.