Opening November 2, 2018
Opening: Thursday, November 1st, 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Venus Over Manhattan
980 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10075
(New York, NY) – Venus Over Manhattan is pleased to present an exhibition dedicated to the life and work of Charlotte Perriand, one of the most famous designers of the twentieth century. Organized in collaboration with Laffanour / Galerie Downtown, Paris, the presentation will represent the largest exploration of Perriand’s production to be staged in New York, comprising some fifty works that span the full breadth of Perriand’s nearly eight-decade career. Staged in advance of a number of major institutional exhibitions dedicated to her career, and presented on the heels of the Centre Georges Pompidou’s “L’UAM, Une aventure moderne,” which prominently featured Perriand’s work, the presentation will be on view beginning November 1st.
Celebrated for her pioneering furniture designs and exquisitely detailed interiors, Charlotte Perriand (1903-1999) registered an outsized impact on the development of modern design. Hand-picked by Le Corbusier to design interiors and furnishings for his projects when she was only twenty-four, Perriand assumed a central position in the codification, maturation, and dissemination of Modernism in the West. Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret – the lead architect at the Atelier Le Corbusier, and Corbusier’s cousin – discovered Perriand’s work at the Salon d’Automne in 1927, where she exhibited her “Bar sous le toit,” a bar made from polished aluminum and glass shelves that sent shockwaves through the design establishment. Le Corbusier invited Perriand to join his studio and lead all interior furnishing and design initiatives, a position she held for ten years. At the Atelier, Perriand designed a collection of furniture and standardized architectural elements meant for mass production, which exploited tubular steel, leather cushions, and other materials that were then rarely used in contemporary domestic settings. Many of these designs have become virtually synonymous with modernist aesthetics, and though the collection is credited to Le Corbusier, Jeanneret, and Perriand, Perriand herself was responsible for many of the individual designs.
Perriand also experimented with natural materials at the Atelier Le Corbusier, moving beyond the machine aesthetic that she helped to introduce. Inspired in part by her interest in photographing the natural world, Perriand explored the potential of wood, rush, and bamboo to provide a level of functionality on par with the successes of her earlier work. Such experiments liberated Perriand from designing strictly geometrical furniture, enabling her to build innovative forms. Her first wooden table, the Table à six pans, was designed specifically for her apartment in Montparnasse, and its unorthodox, six-sided shape maximized the number of people who could sit comfortably around it; a version of this table will be on view in the exhibition. The piece signaled a shift in Perriand’s career: she started crafting wooden tables whose silhouettes delineated unexpected shapes, and she began working in earnest on furniture that she termed “en forme.”
Just two days before the Nazis entered Paris, Perriand left the port of Marseille for Japan, where she served as a cultural advisor to the Japanese government. The sojourn represented the first of two extended periods that Perriand would spend in Japan, both of which had a profound impact on her design philosophy. Traditional Japanese objects, from both functional and artistic realms, influenced her designs during these years; she reinterpreted many of her iconic designs from the Corbusier years in bamboo and other Japanese woods. While in Japan, Perriand curated and staged a traveling exhibition called “Selection, Tradition, Creation,” which juxtaposed works by Japanese craftspeople with Perriand’s own designs. Planning to restage the exhibition in Hanoi, she left Japan shortly before the attack on Pearl Harbor. In Hanoi, she met Jacques Martin, the city’s Director of Economic Affairs, who named her Inspector of Applied Arts in the Economic Department of General Government and as the Director of Craftsmanship. The two married the next year.
Perriand returned to France in 1946, where she turned her attention to the production of her furniture, as well as a series of large commissions for public and private interior spaces. When the Galerie Steph Simon opened in 1956, it became the exclusive representative for the production and sale of her designs, and remained so until the gallery closed in 1974. Perriand also collaborated with Jean Prouvé to design interiors for the student accommodations at the university in Antony, as well as the Maison du Mexique and the Maison de la Tunisie. During the Antony project, she met Jean Borot, who commissioned Perriand to renovate and refurbish the interior of his home in Montmartre, which she began to work on in 1951. The project required fifteen years to complete, making it one of Perriand’s most impressive undertakings. Perriand imbued the home with tactile variety, relying on a wide set of materials like wood, fabric, stone, and ceramic to furnish the interior. Many of the unique pieces built expressly for the Maison Borot, including a large bookshelf, a serving hatch, and a nearly twenty-foot-long mahogany console, will be on view in the exhibition.
ABOUT LAFFANOUR / GALERIE DOWNTOWN, PARIS
Galerie Downtown – François Laffanour specializes in 20th century European and American masters of design – most of them architects of the 20th century. Since opening in 1982, the gallery has organized thematic and monographic exhibitions on designers such as Jean Prouvé, Charlotte Perriand, Pierre Jeanneret, Le Corbusier, and Jean Royère. Shortly after the Second World War, this generation of designers brought a new concept to the art of furnishing, dictated by a need for freedom and functionality: a new “Art de vivre” in a time of technological and scientific advances. They created for the first time shapes that were pure and with very little ornamentation. Galerie Downtown owns the Galerie Steph Simon archives, whose contents help the gallery source and exhibit important works from major historical commissions. Steph Simon was the producer and editor of Charlotte Perriand, Jean Prouvé, Serge Mouille, Georges Jouve as well as Isamu Noguchi furniture, from 1956 to 1974. Since 2004, Galerie Downtown has the exclusive right for Ron Arad’s furniture in France.
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