Hidden behind a thick iron gate, La Villa des Arts, one of Paris latest cities of artists is an ode to calm and creation. on the front door, 3 worn out words that seem to be from another time: “Entrée des artistes” the tone is set.
Inside, over 6000sqm of maze mixing artists’ studios and social accommodations. On the floor, colorful period mosaics. On the first floor, Eiffel flying buttresses and cracking floor… And the highlight of the show, the famous staircase that seems like dancing between the red doors of the four floors of the building.
If all these wonders can be admired today, it’s thanks to Paris City Hall. In 2006, the Villa des Arts – that became too expensive for the Guéret family – ends up in the hands of a developer. Not sensitive at all, he wishes to transform the city of artists into luxury apartments and sell them piece by piece.
“No way” some regret, “Bingo”, some may think. To avoid the fact that “Paris becomes a residential city only”, a handful of tenants create an association (now the La Ville A des Arts association) and go against the project aiming at crushing their bold arty corner.
Supported by the mayor of that time, Bertrand Delanoë (former mayor of Paris 18th arrondissement – Editor’s Note), the Villa is finally saved from the flames of the property speculation a year later. Totally renovated and refurbished in 2014, life changes at the Villa. New residents, new studios, new bounds, new adjoining gallery: La Ville A Des Arts.
Plastic artists, photographer, actor, typographer, writer, musician, cartoonist, architect, sculptor, stager, moviemakers… All these beautiful people live together in the fifteen social housings managed by the city hall.
Visitors are not left out as they can hang out at the Villa during guided tours held once a month and for an hour. In a hurry? No panic, the gallery managed by the association is open daily. “We have created the association and the gallery to highlight the heritage of the Villa des Arts” Barberine explains, as a true living memory of the neighborhood of great careers.
Workshops, drawing lessons, meetings, concerts, conferences… More than a contemplative gallery, the La Ville A Des Arts gallery is a true place of life. “We are actors of the local life”, the guide of the day says.
If you want to be part of it, the association regularly recruits volunteers. You know where to find them but you better knock on the gates of the Villa des Arts to know more about their ghosts (Cézanne, Renoir, Signac…) haunting this authentic and extraordinary place.
La Villa des Arts
15 Rue Hégésippe Moreau
75018 Paris 18