Derelict nightclub reborn as secret street art gallery

50 of the world’s finest street artists have been given the run of a derelict nightclub in the heart of Paris

Work by YZ at Les Bains. Photo: Jérôme Coton


50 of the world’s finest street artists have been given the run of a derelict nightclub in the heart of Paris

Les Bains-Douches, a stone’s throw from the Pompidou Centre, was built in 1885 as a municipal bathhouse. More recently, as Les Bains, it became one of the coolest nightclubs in Paris, in its time a favourite haunt of Mick Jagger, Kate Moss, Johnny Depp and Andy Warhol. But some over-enthusiastic DIY work by the nightclub’s director led to the building being declared a safety hazard and in 2010, it was ordered to be closed.


By Julien Malland Seth. Photo: Jérôme Coton


The following year, owner Jean-Pierre Marois formed La Société des Bains to try to preserve the building, eventually securing its future as a new venue which will open in 2014. But what to do with the derelict building in the meantime?

“In keeping with the artistic soul of the place, we have transformed this dead time into a fleeting, creative buzz,” Marois declared on Les Bains’ website. “Les Bains will host an Artists’ Residency, and the whole building will be offered as a giant canvas for a plethora of urban artists commissioned by Magda Danysz.”


Sambre work in progress. Photo Jérôme Coton


From January this year, 50 renowned street artists have had the run of the building, turning it into a 3,000 square meter gallery, albeit one that is inaccessible to the public. Marois and gallery owner Magda Danysz invited artists including Futura, Space Invader and Sambre to use material drawn from the building – electricity, ripped-up floorboards, rubble and spray paint – to capture its former energy. Smashed disco balls are a recurring motif.

YZ. Photo Jérôme Coton


On April 29, renovation work will begin. None of the artworks will be preserved. “There’s a certain absurdity that I like,” says Marois of the project. “Not many people will see it, it’s all going to disappear.”

Not without trace, however. Two full-time photographers are documenting work in progress for the website; Danysz is publishing a catalogue of the event.


Scratchpaper. Photo: Jérôme Coton


Lek&Sowat. Photo: Jérôme Coton


L’atlas. Photo: Jérôme Coton


JF-Julian. Photo: Jérôme Coton


1984. Photo Jérôme Coton

LEK. Photo: Jérôme Coton

It may be the end of a legend, but Les Bains is going out in style.


Images courtesy Galerie Magda Danysz


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