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Paris Update

I've been in Paris for nearly two weeks, teaching a class for the study abroad program of Columbia College Chicago. Instead of visiting the monuments and major tourist sites, I've picked up where I left off last year, wandering around without much of a plan, except to change direction as soon as I see a view down a side street that takes my interest.

Last weekend, I meandered through the southern part of the fourteenth arrondissement towards the Parc Montsouris. On the way, you come across several buildings that were home to many artists and writers at seminal stages in their development.

The first is the Villa Seurat, on the Rue de la Tombe Issoire:

The site originally contained a house used by the great Post-impressionist painter Seurat, which is renown enough. But the current building, constructed in the 1920s in an art deco style, became a warren of studios that was home to an impressive hothouse of creative people: the great painter Chaim Soutine, writer Henry Miller, writer Anais Nin.

The small street adjacent to the Villa is lined with more studios that were used by other slightly lesser known twentieth century artists, among them sculptor Chana Orloff, painter Jean Lurçat, and writer Frank Townshend.

Walk another quarter of a mile to the western edge of Parc Montsouris, and you find the studio and home of one of the giants of twentieth century art: Georges Braques, co-inventor of Cubism along with Pablo Picasso. The building is difficult to see, as it's screened (intentionally) by a wall and a line of bushes.
But look closely, and you can see that the top of the building has a line of skylight-style glass windows. This is the studio in which Braque ensconced himself for years, adjusting the screens over the windows to match the shifts in the constantly changing Parisian light, working obsessively for months and sometimes years on the same paintings, mostly still lives composed on tables in the studio.

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