|LaRuche as seen today|
During the fair, a revolutionary piece of architecture known as La Ruche (the beehive) was used as an exhibition hall for the wine industry. Afterwards, it was sold for a surprisingly modest sum to a sculptor named Alfred Boucher. He turned the round, three-story structure into a sort of artists' commune with twelve different studio apartments around a central stairway. The ceilings were high with sleeping lofts above the workspace which also doubled as living room and kitchen. The rents were very low and the renters congenial. The first to move in were Avant-garde painters Amedeo Modigliani and Fernand Leger, both destined to make major names for themselves during the new century.
It was not just an abode for artists, however. Political refuges also called it home, among them, Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky, and Anatoli Lunacharsky. Also from Russia came Igor Stravinsky, Alexander Archipenko, Osip Zadkine, and Chaim Soutine. One of the last to take up residence was Moshe Zakharovich Shagal who arrived in 1910. He was Russian, like many of the others. He spoke no French, but communicated instead with his painting in a new, highly colorful and distinctive iconography that bridge the gap between the arty Paris of the first decade of this century and his Russian-Jewish 19th century heritage. He changed his name to the French sounding Marc Chagall, and made friends quickly. The contacts he made while living at La Ruche were to have a profound impact on his career as this peculiar structure became a "beehive" for the minds that would later direct one of the greatest, failed social experiments of this, or any other century.