Wednesday, 13 June 2012

The American Centre for Students and Artists, Paris

The American Center for Students and Artists was founded in 1931 on the Boulevard Raspail in Paris. Housed in a 1930s-era neoclassical building designed by Welles Bosworth, the Centre was a frequent meeting place for Americans and French alike, hosting popular language, music, and theater courses. In the 1960s and 1970s, the American Center evolved into an incubator for avant-garde expression, hosting contemporary dance, music and visual arts.

In the 1980s, in the face of the increasing commercialization of the Montparnasse neighborhood where it was situated, the Center embarked upon an ambitious rebirth in the Bercy neighborhood of Eastern Paris. In 1989, Frank Gehry was commissioned to design a new building for the Center, which opened in 1994. Later the Foundation  decided to carry out its activities in the form of a “foundation without walls," and the building became the Cinémathèque française.

Jan Gabrial looked at the possibility of renting an apartment in December 1933 for her and Lowry to live in from a list provided by the The American Centre for Students and Artists (American Students and Artists Club) (See Jan Gabrial Inside The Volcano Pg. 37).


  1. I remember The American Centre very well. When we arrived in Paris in the late 60's we were welcomed there and our newly formed theatre company (Action Theatre) perfomed plays and held workshops there with the generous support of the Director. I also modelled for the life class, which was an 'interesting' experience. I was very sad to discover the original building in the Boulevard Raspail had vanished, when I made a trip to Paris in the 90's.

  2. In 1971/72, I was a student of music and philosophy in Paris. The American Centre for Students and Artists was a fascinating space for the music I found there. Steve Lacy led us in free jazz ensembles. Elvin Jones gave impromptu recitals. With great luck I met Fernando Arrabal there and was hired to open his play, "Arrabal." I'm sad to hear the space is gone, and would like to know more of its ongoing Parisian spirit.

  3. Angela Crockford (Oman)18 May 2015 at 18:05

    I'm sad too because I'm going back to Paris on Friday May 22nd 2015 for the first time since 1972 and wanted to revisit. Then I was a 19 year old au-pair and used to hang out there with various Irish and American pals. We used to then proceed to Le Raspail Vert, a tabac up the road, and sit over coffees for hours. For the first time, I've been reading my diaries from the time and have been transported back to my 18/19 year old self over the last few days.