Taking a trail around Bohemian Paris: Let a new Tate exhibition inspire you to explore Montmartre's arty spirit

  • ?Artist Amedeo Modigliani made his name in Paris's revolutionary art scene?
  • With his work showing at the Tate Modern, Jenny Coad explores his old haunts
  • She discovers what it was like when the Montmartre was 'off the beaten track'

Artist Amedeo Modigliani made his name in Paris. The rakish Italian caroused in the city, dancing naked in the streets, drinking hard, painting harder. He was part of the Montmartre scene, which included Picasso.

A new exhibition at Tate Modern in London brings together his sculptures, sultry nudes, blank-eyed portraits and Paris set — friends, lovers, art dealers. And visit the French capital and you can shadow his short life across the city.

When Modi (as he was known) and Picasso were here in the early 20th century, Montmartre was off the beaten track, with unpaved roads and a revolutionary spirit.?

Work of art: The Sacre Coeur, which opened in 1914, overlooks the Montmartre district

Work of art: The Sacre Coeur, which opened in 1914, overlooks the Montmartre district

Wine was tax free and the saying went that there was 'more Montmartre in Paris, than Paris in Montmartre'.

The Moulin Rouge was a garden featuring a giant wooden elephant with a spiral staircase in one leg and exotic dancers in its belly.?

You can see photographs of the magnificent beast in the Montmartre Museum, where Renoir once lived and painted.?

Here, too, is a reconstruction of the studio shared by Valadon, Utrillo and Andre Utter.

Razzle dazzle: The Moulin Rouge has always been at the heart of the Montmartre scene

Razzle dazzle: The Moulin Rouge has always been at the heart of the Montmartre scene

With the building of the Sacre Coeur, which opened in 1914, the area was rapidly changing.

?Master at work: Modigliani in his Paris studio

?Master at work: Modigliani in his Paris studio

Now the pretty white basilica draws tourists and travellers who toast Paris on its steps.?

You have to splash out for an evening at the pricey Moulin Rouge, where the dancers can-can in a puff of froufrou and feathers.

The Moulin de la Galette, where Picasso and Braque danced and drew inspiration, is now a sedate restaurant, though still with its windmill.?

Renoir painted the scene here in one of his best-known works, Dance At Moulin De La Galette, 1876.

Across the Seine, in Montparnasse, art schools are still in operation.?

Modi moved here from Montmartre, renting an apartment, where you can have supper.

On display: Modi's 'Nude' (1917), is part of the  Tate Modern exhibition, on until April 2, 2018

On display: Modi's 'Nude' (1917), is part of the Tate Modern exhibition, on until April 2, 2018

The couple who live here are so taken with the artist, they host Modi-themed evenings (bookable via Airbnb) serving his favourite recipes. Their bathroom, formerly Modi's studio, is filled with light.

In 1929 he died here of tuberculosis, destitute and aged only 35. He's buried in Pere Lachaise Cemetery alongside his lover Jeanne Hebuterne. She committed suicide, while nine months pregnant, the day after his death.

Someone has left a pencil on Modigliani's tomb, which seems a fitting tribute to an artist who truly left his mark.

TRAVEL FACTS?

Modigliani opens on November 24 and runs until April 2, 2018, tate.org.uk. Eurostar to Paris costs from £29 one way, eurostar.com.?Rooms at Hotel Des Academies & Des Arts from £148,?hoteldesacademies.com.

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