Paris: Capital of the Arts, 1900–1968 traces the major developments in painting and sculpture that took place in Paris throughout the first seven decades of the twentieth century, and reflects the narrative of historical and political events that changed the character of the city during this period.
Throughout most of the nineteenth century and for much of the twentieth, Paris's position as capital of the arts was uncontested: the city's beauty, its sense of romance, its cultural history, its liberal politics, and the low cost of living there made it a magnet for artists from all over the world.
Four districts of Paris—Montmartre, Montparnasse, Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the Latin Quarter—were the focus of intense artistic activity at key moments. From 1900 to around the end of the First World War, Montmartre was the centre of avant-garde art. In the 1920s and 1930s, Montparnasse became the hub not only of artistic bohemia but also of a glittering social life. During the austere war years, the centre shifted to the cafés of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. The 1960s, years of experiment and political engagement in the arts, exploded with the "événements" of 1968 in the streets of the Latin Quarter.
Such renowned artists as Pablo Picasso, Robert Delaunay, Marcel Duchamp, Fernand Léger, Constantin Brancusi, Jean Dubuffet, Yves Klein or Niki de Saint Phalle, among others, had a prominent role within the enormous artistic activity described in this original overview of the urban geography of this city which has been, till recently, the capital of the arts.