Breathing fresh air into the formulaic art scene, Atelier 7 is a chic, discreet gallery that resuscitates the forgotten genre of the Parisian art salon.
A stylish home where people go to mingle with art, and each other, Atelier 7 has the perfect pedigree for the part. The Montparnasse home-studio was built in 1904 by Louis Süe and André Mare to attract the artists who lived in the neighborhood—and boy did it work! None other than Picasso settled in from 1911-1913.
Exactly a century after the two-storey apartment, which butts against the side of the Cemetière du Montparnasse, was built, Louise Brody, a graphic designer, and her architect husband, moved in. Inspired by the space’s unusual artistic past, they decided to make it into a gallery to showcase the work of their talented circle of friends.
“Sharing the space and living with these artists’ work for five weeks is part of the experience.”
For each five-week exhibition, the couple fills their living room with the work of a different artist. Which means their convictions have to be spot on: not only do they have to believe in the artist, they need to love their work enough to want to live it with it, too.
In contrast to the abstract paintings by Nieves Salzmann earlier this year, the walls at Atelier 7 are now filled with the sensual, elegant images of the George Clooney of photography, Ferrante Ferranti, an artist Brody has worked with for fifteen years.
To say she knows the material well is an understatement: she did the layout for the last twelve of his photography books. Choosing which ones to live with was a piece a cake for Brody who carefully curates her space like the pages in her books, shifting images around to get the perfect juxtaposition of forms, composition and color. In the case of the Ferrante, that meant creating the perfect vibrations between his energetic colors and tactiley black and whites.
This sense of intimacy, from the setting to the set up, is what makes Atelier 7 so special for the artists as well as the visitors. “I really wanted to introduce his work to a larger audience, and like other artists, he felt at home showing here,” says Brody.
It’s also a great way to get a feeling for what an artwork would look like in a home, which is something the stark walls of your traditional gallery hardly help with. While Atelier 7 is not your typical home, it gives you a sense of how the art interacts with furniture, shelving and lighting.
Which brings me to the next fabulous part of Atelier 7—not only can you experience amazing art in an intimate setting and meet the artists (Ferranti is there every weekend during the show), you can also lounge around some phenomenal mid-century furniture from Noguchi, Corbusier, and Matégot. If you fall in love with the furniture, the multitasking Brody, who also runs a vintage furniture-scouting agency called City Styles, can help you find some of your own.
Photographs by Ferrante Ferrante: from December 3, 2009-January 17, 2010 (including New Years day!)
Atelier 7: 242 boulevard Raspail, 75014 Paris
Hours: Thursday-Sunday from 3pm-7pm, or contact me to make an appointment
Prices: Unframed, fine-art prints (€380E-650); Framed, artist-printed in limited edition of 7 (€1300); Color prints on wood support (€800-1400); Black-and-white prints, framed or mounted on wood support (€480-2300).