The Cent Quatre is a huge building in the 19th arrondissement. For 120 years, it was the municipal undertaking service. Private undertakers were not allowed in Paris until 1993.
It had 1400 employees, of which only 40 were women. In the old days, it had 18 stables with 300 horses.
When hearses became motorized, the stables became the garage for 150 vans and 92 automobiles.
After the end of the monopoly, the activity declined and the services were closed in 1997. The building was immediately put on the historical monument registry to prevent it from ever being torn down or modified.
But what to do with it? In 2003, work began to convert it to a municipal art center, with massive artists' studios and exhibition areas. The new art center was inaugurated in October 2008.
At the moment, the Cent Quatre is exposing a full sized replica of the Villa Arpel, from Jacques Tati's 1958 film 'Mon Oncle'.
I have a million questions ........... I In the 4th picture down (right under "It had 1400 employees ..."), it would appear that the doors, wall, & windows were originally exterior, perhaps facing a courtyard. Are the modern additions visible in the photo there in order to create an extra story or mezzanine?
Also, what is the history of the public undertaking services -- was that something that came about after the Revolution?
Are the cross beams and braces shown in the middle photographs (after the stables, before the Villa Arpel exposition) there to comply with modern safety and building codes?
It is a lovely, elegant building - Pompes funèbres de Paris with 1400 employees certainly doesn't evoke such an elegant structure. Some of the views outside from it remind me of Parc de la Villette with la Grande Halle, also recycled ... from a slaughterhouse. Different processing of dead meat, I guess. (Way of all flesh and all that).
I don't recall seeing that building, though I must have passed by. There is a lot of really ugly redevelopment around avenue de Flandre.
I'll need to take a few more pictures to make it clearer, Bixa. Those stables are in the basement! And there is a long ramp going up to ground level.
As for the history of the service, the building was built by the Archdiocese of Paris, which was in charge of all funerals, and was ripped out of the clutches of the church with the famous law of 1905 that kicked the church out of just about everything.
The reason that the city kept a monopoly was just a question of ethics -- should private companies make a profit out of other people's grief? It appears that the reply is "yes."
Lagatta, since you know Paris well, you will probably be impressed to know that the total surface of the building is the same size as Place de la République.
Friday evening, the Cent Quatre kicked off its year end programming with a preview invitation for the neighborhood. There was nobody checking invitations (even though they had been distributed) -- you simply had to know that it was open on December 10th when all of the posters say December 11th.
There were numerous performances, art installations and attractions, but the big event was the arrival of the Manège Carré Sénart, designed and built by the designer of the marionnettes and machines of the incredible Royal Deluxe troupe from Nantes.
This is not your usual carousel. That's right -- no music!
Post by frenchmystiquetour on Dec 11, 2010 16:17:00 GMT
Thanks for the show K2. I love the film Mon Oncle and as you probably know parts of it were filmed in Saint-Maur. I love the part in the movie where the fountain gets turned on for important visitors and turned off for those not so important. Did they recreate the fountain too? I must check this place out.
People located in Germany will apparently only be able to imagine the boneless Guineans, because YouTube sent me a message telling me that Sony Music has disabled the video in Germany after identifying the music. I don't even know what the music is! (Of course, we are talking about music-bots, not actual real people bothering to watch and listen to a video. Big Brother has big ears.)
Just back from Paris where we went to Cent Quatre and saw the Merry Go Round. I kept thinking "this is a place for kerouc" When I got home I did some internet digging to learn more about the installation and the Cent Quatre and, of course, what should it lead me to but this wonderful post. Reliving. Thanks.
This afternoon, I went to the Cent Quatre and there was some very dangerous activity in progress. Adults can do what they want, but should children be allowed to do this?
Okay, maybe it wasn't so dangerous after all, but it was fascinating.
I really enjoy all of the chaises longues and other seats they put for people to spend as much time as they want.
There is also the little book exchange shack. I am determined to bring them a supply of books soon even if I don't find any books to take in exchange. I have too many books. And I should probably also bring my magazines instead of throwing them away.
Before I left, I finally went through the labyrinth. It has been there for at least a year taking up a lot of space, but now it appears that it is in its final moments of existence. I hope they find something excellent to replace it.
What a great place! Such a beautiful historic building and fascinating installations. I especially love the mirror piece. You have some great shots of people having fun with it. It must be a real treat for the little kids to go to an art museum and actually get to touch and climb on things.
I love the video of the Le Cirque dancers. Their flexibility and grace is amazing. The crowd seemed pretty mesmerized. Great music, too, and fitting.
Yet another thing I wish I knew about and/or had time to see while I was in Paris. I was not too far away at one point. Well, there's always next time.
As a neighbour of the Cent Quatre, I was invited this week to the opening of the new "Festival Temps d'Images" and more specifically to the inauguration of the "Etats Limits" exhibit on the 18th. Even though I am not a big fan of champagne, I figured that the event would be worth the 5-minute walk to get there.
Once again it was all about conceptual art with an emphasis on the audiovisual. China is of course now the dominant cultural nation.
To enter the exhibit, one went down the ramp to the stables to enter the kaleidoscope.
Then there were a number of rather amazing film clips in the dark stables about various subjects.
Naturally, there were other things to inspect.
The room of creepy toys impressed everybody the most. The press said the same thing.
Okay, here is a little video of it all.
We had to wait an hour before the two bars opened with the pink champagne and strange nibbles.
I still pop into the Cent Quatre every couple of months or so, because I never know what will be happening. Last Saturday, one of the events was a vegan/vegetarian market and related "alternative" goods.