Paris, 17 April 2014, Art Media Agency (AMA).
Several prominent personalities of the art world have written an open letter to the Prime Minister and the Mayor of Paris to save the Grenier des Grands Augustins — the studio where Picasso painted Guernica.
A legal dispute between the Association du Comité National pour l’Éducation Artistique (CNEA) and the Chambre des Huissiers (Chamber of Legal Bailiffs) has been ongoing since 2013, on the subject of the arts organisation’s expired right of residence in the studio. The space, which belongs to the Chambre des Huissiers, has been occupied by the CNEA since 2002. The Chamber issued an eviction order on 7 August 2013; however, the art organisation refuses to abandon the space and responded by appealing for public support. According to Opinion Internationale, the website which launched the petition, the building in which the studio is located — closed to the public since November 2013 — risks being transformed into a luxury hotel.
The open letter addressed to Anne Hidalgo and Manuel Valls — both of Spanish origin — has been signed by Charlotte Rampling, Bernard Lavilliers, Lucien Clergue, Jean-Pierre Mocky and Didier Lockwood, amongst others. It appeals to the Prime Minister and the Mayor of Paris in the following terms: “You were both born in Spain and have chosen to live in France, in Paris. Paris is also the place where Picasso painted the most important work of the 20th century, Guernica (…). In a way, you are the singular heirs of Guernica and you tread the same path as Picasso.” It appeals to Anne Hidalgo and Manuel Valls “to instigate an urgent procedure to classify the studio as an important landmark site”, according to AFP.
Picasso, who lived at 7 rue des Grands Augustins between 1937 and 1955, painted several major works in the studio, including Guernica in 1937. Other artists resided in the studio, such as Jean-Louis Barrault, who founded his first theatre company whilst he lived there between 1933 and 1936.