Directed by Amelie Harrault & Pauline Gaillard • Documentary • 2020 • 53 minutes
Adapted from Dan Franck’s literary trilogy Bohemian Paris, Libertad! and Midnight, the story plunges us into Parisian life at the beginning of the twentieth century, a hotbed of artistic creation with the blossoming of Fauvism, Cubism, Dadaism and Surrealism. Through illustrations, animation and original documents, the 6-part series, which is constructed as a fiction, traces the highs and lows, scandals and celebrations, tragedies and triumphs that shaped the phenomenal period of Modern Art from the basement of the “Bateau-lavoir“ in 1900 to the last shudders of World War II. The infamous protagonists include Pablo Picasso, Max Jacob, Guillaume Apollinaire, Gertrude Stein, Kiki, André Gide, André Malraux and Robert Capa. All of them artists and intellectuals who came to France from across Europe and left an indelible mark on the 20th century. These glorious subversives were adventurers before becoming heroes.
Episode 1: Bohemia
In joyous, early 20th century Montmartre, a band of penniless artists comprising Max Jacob, Picasso, Apollinaire, Derain and Vlaminck, among others, takes up residence in an old piano factory: le Bateau-Lavoir.
Soon enough, anyone who is anyone in the way of painters, writers, and art collectors is rubbing shoulders in the shabby-chic hallways of their warehouse. The bohemian lifestyle that they cultivate revolves around doing work, meeting muses, and making merry.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Seine, Matisse, known for leading a life of austerity, is busy turning the established order upside down at the Salon d’Automne of 1905, exhibiting works that burst with flamboyant color. Fauvism is born. From within the murky halls of the Bateau-Lavoir, Picasso prepares his response. Paying homage to their respective visions of modernity, the two painters ready their brushes for a contest of canvases.