31 Aug Hoping to Find Real Artists in Montmartre
Montmartre is synonymous with art. The Impressionistic movement was born and raised on the highest hill in Paris. Many aspiring artists flock to the area to paint, sketch and create works of art inspired by the greats who came before them. Hoping to find “real artists” in Montmartre, we booked an art history docent Marie Dessaillen through Context Travel Paris for a tour of the area. We climbed our way up and down the quiet, petit, winding back streets to the top never seeing more than a handful of locals going about their everyday life.
And just as I was about to give up the notion of seeing an artist in Montmartre in action (not the kind of action close to Sacre Coeur where “commercial” artists are selling their sketches or drawing caricatures for tourists) we came around a corner and saw a true artist, engrossed in his work. He was concentrating so hard on the landscape he was painting that I dared not get too close to take his photo. I definitely did not feel comfortable peeking over his shoulder to examine his work. Even though he was on a public street, it felt to me that I would be invading his privacy. He muttered very softly to himself and gazed up laser focused on the landscape in front of him. I observed him for just a couple of minutes, but it was enough for me to know he was “the real deal” so I reverently moved past hoping to not disturb the master at work.
Of the 1,000 photographs I took on this trip, the one of him is my absolute favorite. I can’t tell his nationality from this photo, but his has to have been raised in Europe the way he is dressed. Cashmere sweater with the perfect red scarf accent, jeans no belt rolled up at the bottom, navy lace up sneakers, a banded straw hat and carrying everything in a backpack. Eclectic ensemble, but very put together – so European. I hesitated a moment or two before taking the photo to look around and see if this was a movie set and he was acting as a prop it seemed so perfect, but he was alone with his paint and working diligently unaware I was even around. I wish I possessed such abilities to concentrate that intensely.
Did I miss an opportunity to meet the next future Monet? Maybe so, but this trip is more about observing a story than creating one. And, if someday he does become famous, I have an original photo of this real artist in Montmartre creating one of his famous works. How cool is that?