30 September 2021

Marcel Dhièvre in Saint-Dizier (52), Haute-Marne (52)

Au Petit Paris was originally a small shop run by Marcel Dhièvre (1898-1977) and his second wife Constance. It was on meeting an Italian painter-decorator named Radici that his imagination was changed, and after World War II, when Marcel and his wife came to live at 478 Ave de la République, in La Noue district of the town, that he began a task that was to last for at least thirty years: decorating his house, transforming it into the art brut showpiece that it now is. The prominent frontal view of the Tour Eiffel and the Arc de Triomphe are testimony to his many trips to Paris to purchase merchandise for the shop. For his art, children in the neighbourhood helped him to collect 'rubbish' from local dumps, bits of broken crockery, pieces of glass, etc. The media became interested in his work in the seventies, although after his death the house began to fall into decay. However, in 1984 the house was declared a 'monument historique', in 1994 Katie Couprie bought the house and began reparations, and since 2018 it has become a 'Bar culturel'. The first image is of the front page of the sixteen-page booklet Il était une fois...au Petit Paris, published by L'Association Au Petit Paris.

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