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Grands-Augustins attic: Picasso’s Parisian studio saved from becoming a hotel suite

The Parisian attic in the 6th arrondissement where Picasso worked for 20 years and painted “Guernica” will be preserved due to a legal agreement reached between heirs and hotel developers.

Perched at the top of the Hôtel de Savoie, at 7 rue des Grands-Augustins, Picasso’s studio has been the battleground of fierce negotiations to prevent the historic attic from being swallowed up into a new luxury hotel.

The two-year battle pitted the CNEA, the National Committee for Arts Education, and Picasso’s daughter Maya Widmaier Picasso against the Paris Chamber of judicial officers, who have owned the Hôtel de Savoie since 1925.

The CNEA had been using the attic since 2002 for concerts, art exhibits and educational workshops for children. When the hotel owners attempted to evict the organization, it launched a campaign to list the attic as a protected landmark, garnering support from actress Charlotte Rampling and philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy amongst others.

UNESCO got involved and ruled that the attic was “a place full of memories for Paris, for France, and for the global artistic culture”.

The agreement reached sees the luxury project go ahead with the City of Paris’ permission, provided the listed façade and upper floors be preserved. The ground floor will contain “a space dedicated to the development of activities related to the life and work of the artist” as part of the future Maya Picasso Foundation. As for the attic itself, it will be reserved for conferences for Picasso experts and researchers.

It was in this studio in 1937 that Picasso painted one of his most famous works “Guernica” denouncing the Spanish Civil War. Other tenants included writers Honoré de Balzac and Jean Cocteau and poet Jacques Prévert.

The initiative was supported by the Ministry of Culture and the Picasso-Paris National Museum which reopened last October after a 5-year renovation. Housed in the Hôtel Salé, the museum has the largest collection of Picasso pieces in the world.


Photo credit: Le Figaro

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