Street Art In Montmarte: From The District That Inspired A New School

Today was the last day of our trip to Paris and we spent it enjoying the D’Orsay museum that houses the more “provocative” art from the late 19th century and early 20th century.

I went expecting the impressionists to be the period that I would find most inspiring, but was introduced to an education on the Nadis, Post-impressionists and Symbolists who changed my perspective in the progression of modern art. It was in the late 19th century that artists in France first began to force creativity out of the realm of nobility and religious depictions to more intimate representations of day-to-day life and the mysticism of dreams that intended to evolve our perceptions of what makes us human.

I have two favorites. First is Pierre Bonnard, one of the Nadis (derived from the Hebrew for “prophets”…no egos there. 😉 ) who depicted intimate settings of home-life and interiors rather than bourgeoise scenes of upper class picnics and nature scenes.

Then there is Henri Tolouse-Lautrec; an artist and draftsman born of French nobility but an outsider by nature of his many physical “abnormalities” who spent his life living in and being inspired by Montmarte. This notorious area of Paris is known for its bohemian culture and vice-driven nightlife. Many of his subjects were the denizens and entertainers of the clubs and other seedy venues where he spent his nights.

As an anthropologist and sociologist I suppose it makes sense that these are the French art schools I appreciate most from the 19th century. And I suppose it also makes sense that I gravitate in the more modern era to street art: the outlet of the disenfranchised artists who’s work may not always make it to galleries but still provides an open-experience of art appreciation to anyone who takes the time to practice the urgent work of noticing. Because art doesn’t always just imitate life but is also part of our everyday life and an essential form of expression that reminds us to transcend mundanity and appreciate our humanity.

So, after we spent a few hours at D’Orsay we headed to Henri T-R’s old stomping ground and I was pleased to find that it was appropriately rife with artistic inspiration for anyone who might be looking beyond the street vendors and quaint cafes. So, as my final photo-walk , here is some of the more interesting street art I found along the way. Those who are connoisseurs will recognize a couple of pieces. But I believe anyone reading this blog will appreciate the inspiration all the same.

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