Paris, known for such iconic buildings (the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, for instance) also prides itself on a number of other less well-known buildings, such as Les Bains.
Built in 1885, Les Bains was originally one of the most famous bath houses in Paris for almost a century, frequented by the likes of Marcel Proust – until its owners, the Guerbois family, shut up shop in 1978. Les Bains’ illustrious history was still in the process of being written, however. Following a Philippe Starck make-over, the venue became a night club cum concert hall, and the place to be for a myriad of big names. From stars of music such as Bryan Ferry, David Bowie, Mick Jagger and David Guetta, to fashion icons such as Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, Yves Saint Laurent, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss, to screen stars including Catherine Deneuve, Johnny Depp and Sean Penn, the list of A-list guests was quite simply never-ending.
In 2010, however, following some unauthorized building work, Les Bains was finally forced to close its doors for good….or so it seemed. Just a year later, La Société Des Bains was formed, whose mission was to renovate the building and give it a whole new identity, whilst remaining utterly sympathetic to its past. The aim is to open it again in 2014, four years after it was initially shut down.
In the meantime, rather than let the empty space remain destitute, unused and ultimately unappreciated, it has been handed over to Magda Danysz to curate a wholly different artistic event. Celebrating street art at its most creatively expressive, the building – quite literally – has become a blank canvas for specially selected international artists to share their passion and talent on a truly epic scale. Fans of this alternative art scene (and of Les Bains itself) should get online quick, though – the various depictions are only on show via the web until 30th April, before the renovators move in, ensuring the story of Les Bains, in all its many guises, will continue to be written – go to www.lesbains-paris.com.