let's have a kiki

Most Iconic Paris Decade, Captured in New Book

It was the fabulous place that Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and plenty of cultured, highly literate expatriates called home when they couldn’t handle their hometown. In Paris, they were welcomed by Kiki de Montparnasse — a singer, caberet performer, artist’s model, and occasional painter. She was also the unofficial queen of the Left Bank neighborhood where the culturati drank, sang, wrote, and acted like the flâneurs they so hoped to conjure up. They succeeded, of course, as proven by the vintage photographs and original paintings published in a new book Paris in the 1920s with Kiki de Montparnasse (Assouline). Click ahead for a look at old-school Gertrude Stein, the artist Man Ray, the dancer Jean Rai, and plenty of vintage clothes you probably don’t want to wear, but can appreciate nonetheless.

Photo: Collection JGB

Tightrope Walker, by Kiki, 1929. Private Collection.

Photo: George Eastman House/Getty Images

Portrait of American author Gertrude Stein (1874-1946) as she sits in an armchair, 1913. 

Photo: Lebrecht

Outside La Coupole, the famous brasserie of the era.

Photo: Getty Images

Dancer Jean Rai demonstrating the Black Bottom Blues, the latest dance craze from America at the Lido club in the Champs-Élysées, 1925. 

Photo: Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division Carl Van Vechten Collection

Portrait of Man Ray, Paris 1934.

Photo: George Grantham Bain Collection/Library of Congress

Picabia in his studio, c. 1910-1915.

Photo: Getty Images

Kiki de Montparnasse as prostitute soliciting for Man Ray c. 1925, in the South of France.

Photo: Roger Viollet/Getty Images

Terrace of café. Paris, about 1925. 

Photo: Roger Viollet/Getty Images

Foujita, Paris 1928.

Photo: Collection JGB

Le Marché aux Soieries à Paris, by Kiki, 1932.