For a decade, the area flourished as an artistic citadel to a degree arguably never seen before or since, the list of artists and writers who lived there (Matisse, Braque, Modigliani, Utrillo, Alfred Jarry, Raymond Radiguet etc) an embarrassment of riches.
In the midst of this daunting collection of genius and narcissism, Apollinaire became indispensable.
Apollinaire persuaded Boccioni to sculpt in bronze and was among the first to publicise and celebrate the work, and verve, of Marinetti and his Futurists.
He arranged the first ever solo exhibition of the magical Russian folk-painter Marc Chagall.
What accounts for the relative obscurity he is held in today is puzzling; perhaps he was too much of an artist’s artist and so never permeated beyond a narrow elite of admirers, perhaps it’s because he died just before the ideas he sowed came to fruition, that he was too far ahead of his time and others less brilliant but more disciplined and diligent reaped the benefits and acclaim.
Or perhaps it’s because there never really was an Apollinaire, at least in an easily definable form, that he was a set of paradoxes not easily packaged for mass consumption or caricatured into an icon the way that his friend Picasso was.Most put this down to his talent for self-publicity, in fact his boasts were closer to reality than suspected.Though it’s a matter of some debate, his father was most likely Francesco Flugi D’Aspermont, an Italian from a family on the periphery of Bourbon nobility and who, with customary aristocratic chivalry, ditched his mistress and child when the threat of scandal arose.Apollinaire, the man who was too many things, the innovator who was too far ahead of the world, the writer whose time may only now be coming to pass.According to official records, Guillaume Apollinaire was born twice; on the 25th of August 1880 and again a day later (in the city of Rome).We think of Picasso as figure of the group and time, chiefly because time, money and his obvious incredible skill and vision have been kind to the Spaniard, but at the time Apollinaire assumed the effective role of leader.He actively changed the perception, content and direction of some of the greatest art of this, or any, age and made Picasso for one, in the way we think of him, possible.Béroud persisted, eventually resorting to offering the guards a bribe to go look for it. The police were called, the museum was closed and an investigation launched, an investigation that would set into motion a series of events which would result in the untimely death of one of the greatest writers of the age, a writer by the name of Guillaume Apollinaire.Today Apollinaire is remembered, when he is remembered, as simply the man who baptised Surrealism.Consequently, he was given two sets of birth certificates and corresponding names; Guillelmus Apollinaris (the name coming appropriately from the Greek God of poetry and oracles Apollo) Albertus de Kostrowitzky and Guilliaume-Apollinaire-Albert.Throughout his life, Apollinaire would claim he was a blue-blooded Russian prince, a Polish aristocrat and, with irreverent relish, the bastard son of His Holiness Pope Leo XIII himself.