Auguste Perret's first medium-sized residence/artist’s studio
The history of Villa Seurat began in 1924. Jean Lurçat, a renowned painter who was well known for having renewed the art of tapestry in France, and his brother André, a young architect, hatched a plan to create an artists’ commune.
Together, they selected a plot south of Paris where there stood an apple warehouse. Then, they went about convincing Jean's artist friends to move to the "neighborhood". Evidently, Jean was persuasive. Under his prodding, Robert Couturier, Marcel Gromaire, Edouard Goerg, and Chana Orloff all decided to have their home and studio built on that site. Later, their little neighborhood would become home to other major artists, including Dali, Jean Vilar, Mario Prassinos, Chaïm Soutine, Anaïs Nin, and Henry Miller. It was there that Miller wrote "Tropic of Cancer” in 1936.
The artists’ row was given the name Villa Seurat; in homage to the pointillist painter. André Lurçat built eight houses along the row, beginning with Jean's in 1924.
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The Chana Orloff studios
When Lurçat invited her to join the project, Chana Orloff rented an artist’s studio on rue d'Assas. She worked out of that studio and lived there with her son, Elie. The accommodation was quite run-down.
She was acquainted with the architect Auguste Perret since producing his portrait in 1923. She asked him to design her home/artist’s studio at number 7 bis in the Villa Seurat. It had to be functional, suitable for both her personal and professional life. Above all dedicated to her work as an artist, this workspace gives priority to volumes and light. It was built of reinforced concrete. Construction began in April 1926 and was completed in September of that year.
The architects of the Modern Movement — to which André Lurçat belonged — created smooth, bare and unmodified façades. But Lurçat expressed his own principles in the façade of Chana Orloff’ home/studio, with concrete columns and beams and a discreet decorative touch with a staggered brick structure.
The plan for the build was very simple: the ground floor would feature an exhibition studio on the street side and the artist’s workspace at the end of the plot. A low-ceilinged gallery on the first floor offers an amazing view of the exhibition studio and the works within it. The second floor is a living space, with a small apartment with two bedrooms.
The quality of the natural light in the studio is remarkable. The exhibition studio is bathed in light from a glass façade on the street side. The artist’s workspace, the kitchen, the living room, the corridor to the living room, and the bathroom are all illuminated from above.
The interior design was the work of two friends: Francis Jourdain designed the furniture for the dining room and Pierre Chareau that of the two bedrooms. Chareau also designed the fabrics and draperies, which were made by Hélène Henri. Sadly, all those furnishings disappeared during the Second World War.