Designer Jean Lurçat’s Hidden Paris Studio
Even Parisians who pride themselves on knowing every cul-de-sac, every secret garden, and every arcane street in the city are surprised to discover the Villa Seurat, an enclave—not a house as the name suggests—in the 14 ème arrondissement. The short street is where Jean Lurçat, the French painter and tapestry master, lived in a white stucco and glass house—designed in collaboration with his brother, the modernist architect André Lurçat, and built in 1925—until he died in 1966.
The house—built primarily to function as an artist’s studio—as many artists were leaving the too-expensive Montparnasse neighborhood for a less costly place in which to live and work—was the first of eight similar buildings on the street, which André Lurçat built in the style of the avant-garde architect Walter Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus movement.
After Jean Lurçat’s death, his widow, Simone, lived there until 2010, willing the house and its contents—all of the Lurçats’ original furnishings—with pieces by the renowned French architect Pierre Chareau and designer Mathieu Matégot—as well as over 1,400 drawings, numerous paintings, diaries, and some of the best examples of both Lurçat’s ceramics and the beautifully detailed bright tapestries for which he became famous. “Lurçat was an artist completely engaged in his time,” explained Xavier Hermel, who, as the administrator of the Jean and Simone Lurçat Foundation, has been in charge of the renovation of the house for the past 12 years, which is now archived in the Historic Monuments of France under the aegis of Paris’ prestigious Académie des Beaux Arts.