How to Navigate Parisian Art Scene
If you’ve visited Paris more than once, impatient queuing outside the Louvre or Pompidou probably isn’t your bag. Walk past the snaking centipedes of tourists with your head held high and dive into Paris’ creative underbelly – no queueing necessary.
Located in the 12th arrondissement just a short walk from Quai de la Rapée metro, La Maison Rouge has become a hub for Paris’s transgressive artists. A former printworks factory, this red-daubed gallery stands in defiant contrast to the decadent mainstream. Founded by collector Antoine de Galberg, La Maison has become a beacon for young artists who are challenging the status quo. Independent curators work on a series of temporary exhibitions throughout the year and the aim of the game is to provoke.
A hop, skip and a jump from Paris’ famous flea market in Saint-Ouen, Mob Hotel has cemented itself as an artistic hangout in the north of the city. One to rival the Ace Hotel in terms of its community feel and creative clientele, head here for drinks and dancing on a Friday night, film screenings throughout the week and a monthly art and design pop-up exhibition.
The graffiti adorning streets of Belleville is a nod to the thriving creative scene in the area. Once home to Edith Piaf, this grittily pretty neighbourhood is the place to rub shoulders with local artists, with Villa Belleville establishing itself as something of a cultural centre among the creative crowd. Unassuming from the outside and cavernous within, the expansive studio space hosts an open residency programme meaning there are regular, eclectic exhibitions, while the laid-back air will make you want to stick around for drinks afterwards.
Street art and graffiti culture make up the foundation of Le Lavo / Mattik, which you’ll find in the 13th arrondissement. More than just a gallery, it’s made up of a retail space selling unique prints and art inspired by the city, a bookshop and an area hosting live music nights. Supporting independent artists and getting the public involved is the focus here; drop by on any given night and you may find yourself involved in the bi-weekly painting of the stairs – an ever-changing, transient exhibition that gets artists in and working in the space.
Le G’enie d’Alex is the place to go if you want to party with Paris’ art crowd. An enormous area set under the Alexandre III Bridge on the banks of the Seine, this hidden hangout has live music, exhibitions and workshops. In the day you’ll probably end up in a furniture design class; by night, you’ll dance to heady urban beats – and probably won’t resurface until the morning.
If you’re keen to know what the young artists of Paris are up to, you’ll probably find the answer at Le Wonder. Founded as a reaction to the closure of an artistic squat in the 19th arrondissement, this five-storey building now hosts studios, exhibition spaces and workshops. Artists and musicians use the space to create and generally to hang out. There’s a new opening every week, which usually turns into a party.
Another living, breathing space on Paris’ arts and culture scene, Le Doc is made up of a series of open studios, workshops and galleries. A collective of 66 artists – working across the visual arts as well as in music, film and theatre – fill the building, creating art and hosting workshops that contribute to Le Doc’s financial independence. Film screenings, plays, live music and exhibitions are a matter of routine, with an ever-evolving roster of happenings scheduled each week.
Located in the heart of Paris’ art school district, L’Hotel is where thrifty students stop by to share a cocktail and live the high life if only for an hour. Famous as being the place in which Oscar Wilde died, L’Hotel has hosted some of the world’s most creative minds. Surrounded by The National School of Fine Arts, Academy Des Beaux-Arts and L’ecole des Arts, this institution marries Paris’ art scene past with its present.