Live Like a Poet!

By Rosanna Warren

Posted by Ann Kjellberg

On April 13, 1904, Pablo Picasso and his friend the Catalan painter Sebastià Junyer Vidal travelled from Barcelona to Paris and installed themselves in Montmartre in the studio just vacated by the Basque ceramicist and sculptor Paco Durrio. Junyer Vidal paid the rent. Called “La Maison du Trappeur” (The Trapper’s House), later renamed Le Bateau Lavoir by its denizens, this ex-piano factory and ex-locksmith shop converted to a congeries of studios in 1889 could be entered on the first floor from the rue Ravignan, but plunged in the rear down three storeys to the rue Garreau. Various Spanish artists had preceded Picasso in the building, including his older friends Ricard Canals and Joaquim Sunyer. In the 1880s it had been a popular haunt for anarchists, Gauguin had visited often, and the poet-dramatic Paul Fort had lived there while directing his Symbolist Théâtre de l’Art across the square. Poet Max Jacob, who visited every day and later lived there for a while, evoked it often. In a lecture in 1937 he remembered: “Picasso returned with what the dealers have called the Blue Period paintings, vaguely imitative of El Greco. He led me to the crown of the Butte Montmartre. We scorned all previous art and all the schools, and in the evenings, to amuse ourselves, we improvised plays, without spectators, which we never wrote down and which concluded in wild bursts of laughter.

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