Artists’ Studios in Urban Areas: A Comparative Study between Paris and London

Public Spaces: Times of Crisis and Change

ISBN: 978-1-78635-464-8, eISBN: 978-1-78635-463-1

ISSN: 1047-0042

Publication date: 5 November 2016


The chapter is concerned with the policy led by Paris and London towards the visual artists during the XXth century up to the present day. It examines in detail the evolution of the political system developed in France – as Paris was the center of artistic culture – from philanthropic initiatives, the “cités d’artistes,” to the introduction of painters and sculptors in social lodgings in the 1920s by the City of Paris. This impulse was supported by the Ministry of Culture. The expression of welfare state promoting artists in Paris is opposed to the emergence of “arts infrastructure” in the former industrial buildings of London through various artists’ associations, such as Space and Acme. From an historical research and a sociological analysis concentrated on Paris and its suburbs, our fieldwork, we studied an emblematic example, Montmarte-aux-artists, located in the 18th arrondissement the evolution of the welfare politics concerning artists’ studios in the urban renovation of Paris up to the present day. In contrast, the social support concerning the artists living in London is opposite and the effects on the urban area are different. Our research is inspired from the School of Chicago methodology. The main results of our research underline how the introduction of artists’ studios in social lodgings reveals an utopian dimension linked to the artist. So, the artist is considered as a singular inhabitant who can encourage the empowerment in the social housings or who can contribute to the phenomenon of gentrification in an area. However, the utopian role given to the artists is limited to the social and political system.



Billier, D. (2016), "Artists’ Studios in Urban Areas: A Comparative Study between Paris and London", Public Spaces: Times of Crisis and Change (Research in Urban Sociology, Vol. 15), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp. 129-142.

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