The Story of Dantzig
Passage Dantzig, a street in the district of Montparnasse in Paris, harbours still to this day one of the most important art studio’s in Europe. La Ruche or The Beehive is a 3 story building that got his name because it looked more like a giant beehive then a place suitable for humans. It was designed as a temporary building by Gustave Eiffel for the Universal Exhibition of 1900.
The building was dismantled and rebuild as cheap studios for artists by Alfred Boucher, who wanted to help young artists. Alongside the artists, La Ruche was a safe haven for drunks, the poor and misfits.
La Ruche was very cheap and you wouldn’t get evicted if you can’t pay. Because of this it became a legend amongst artists. The Russian painter Pinchus Kremegne got off the train at the Gare de l’Est with just a few rubles. The only French words he knew was the phrase “Passage Dantzig”, but that was all he needed to get him there.
In the history of art, very few places ever housed such artistic talent as found at La Ruche. In the early years of the 20th century artists like Guillaume Apollinaire, Marc Chagall, Fernand Léger, Max Jacob, Chaim Soutine, Robert Delaunay, Amedeo Modigliani, Diego Rivera and many others called La Ruche home.
La Ruche went into decline in World War II. During the 1968 real estate boom, it was threatened with demolition by developers. With the support of benefactors like Jean-Paul Sartre, Alexander Calder, Jean Renoir, and René Char, new management with a preservation mission took over in 1971, turning it into a collection of working studios.