Let us continue our Montmartre tour as we move on to Le Bateau-Lavoir. We're walking people, walking.
It is said that modern art was born at Le Bateau- Lavoir. This former piano factory was modified to house artists that could live and work there. It got it’s nickname for the Laundry boats that once traveled the Seine. One tenant described it as “…a weird squalid place filled with every kind of noise: arguing, singing, bedpans clattering, slamming doors and suggestive moans coming from studio doors.” It was here, between 1890 and 1920, that some of the most talented writers and artists of the day lived and worked. My pal Modigliani did his time here before moving to Montparnesse, as did Braue, Juan Gris, Van Donges Marie Laurencin and many others.
In 1904 an unknown Pablo Picasso moved in here and in 1907 painted Les Demoiselles d’ Avignon which is regarded as the painting that began “Cubism”. I would disagree with this, as my great, great grand uncle was painting ‘cubie’ ladies in his little cottage in the western part of Ireland in the late 1800’s- I don’t wasn’t to suggest that Picasso stole the idea from poor ol’ Uncle Shamus, but it seems pretty apparent that he did. By the time that Picasso moved out of the Bateau-Lavoir the thieving Spaniard was famous- but later he said, “I know one day we’ll return to Bateau- Lavoir. It was there that we were really happy- where they thought of us as painters, and not strange animals. oh yea, and thanks for the idea Sucka'...I mean Shamus.”
Le Bateau-Lavoir burned down in the 1970’s and was later replicated. I believe it is still used to house artists- but the charm is lost when you realize that it is a reproduction. Perhaps one of the current artists will bring it back to its former historic glory. Uncle Shamus died penniless, but not before doing a little time for his "special drawings."