The Parisian artists squat has a storied history, with famous figures like Picasso, Matisse and Modigliani having taken up residence in city squats during the 20th century. Artists still dream of having a studio in the center of Paris, but prohibitive rents make this impossible for all but the lucky few.
In recent years the city government has legalized several artists squats throughout Paris, bringing buildings up to code and offering agreements with artists in residence to exchange token rents for the ability to work (if not live) in Paris.
The most famous and easily accessible of these squats is 59 Rivoli, which began in 1999 as an artists squat in an abandoned Crédit Lyonnais building in the heart of Paris and soon attracted a steady stream of visitors and media attention.
The squat got the blessing of the government when mayor Bertrand Delanoë kept a campaign promise to legalize what is now a renovated government-subsidized “aftersquat” that houses artist studios for some 30 permanent artists and visiting artists, features a ground floor gallery and hosts weekend concerts. It’s free to the public and open daily except Mondays. For a virtual visit, go here.