Of all creatives, visual artists are perhaps the least likely to work in isolation; the atomised life of garret-installed solitude is not for them. Artists have always bounced off one another, whether in colonies, studios, collectives or co-operatives. The YBAs would not have been a thing, let alone a now-unfashionable acronym, had a significant group of them not chosen to hang out together. There are outliers, of course, but for the most part artists seem to like rubbing along together, perhaps in the belief that the fumes of oil from one studio can inspire brushwork in the one next door.
The Impasse Ronsin, a tiny cul de sac in the 15th arrondissement of Paris, was the artists’ colony to beat them all. It had everything: fame, obscurity, money, poverty, radicalism, outrage.