Grenier des Grands-Augustins

June 19, 2013By Heidi EllisonWhat's New Potpourri

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Paris Update Grenier des Grands Augustins

One of the most magical places in Paris, the Grenier des Grands-Augustins, is being threatened with closure. Picasso lived and worked in this attic atelier in a 17th-century Left Bank building from 1936 to 1955 and painted his antiwar masterpiece “Guernica” there. Actor Jean-Louis Barrault, star of Marcel Carné’s Les Enfants du Paradis (Children of Paradise) rehearsed there with his first theater company. Balzac’s short story “Le Chef-d’œuvre Inconnu,” about 17th-century painters Nicolas Poussin and François Porbus, was set in the building and was later illustrated by Picasso himself in an edition published by art dealer Ambroise Vollard. And the nine-year-old Louis XIII was crowned king of France in the building an hour after his father, Henri IV, was assassinated in 1610.

Since 2002, the Comité National pour l’Education Artistique, a nonprofit association that promotes art education for children, has been granted the free use of this beautiful space for its classes. It restored the atelier and uses it for free exhibitions and concerts, thus opening it regularly to the public. Now the building’s owners, the Chambre des Huissiers de Justice de Paris, is threatening to evict the CNEA, even though the association has found an angel willing to take on the lease: one of Picasso’s descendants. The case goes before the court today. We will keep you posted. Heidi Ellison

Update, July 12, 2014: Apparently the CNEA has been thrown out, but the studio has been classified as a historical monument. The case will go to court in September. The CNEA is constructing a new Web site, since its original one seems to have been pirated.


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