A prominent figure in Art Décor Design during the 1920s and 1930s, French architect and designer Pierre Chareau’s furnishings, light fixtures, and customized interiors for an affluent clientele were considered the epitome of elegance and style. His architectural masterpiece, Maison de Verre (the Glass House), the first glass and steel house in Paris was a milestone in early 20th century modern architecture only rivaled by the work of the legendary Le Corbusier. Although routinely studied in academia, Chareau’s many contributions have received little critical examination in wider circles, hopefully until now.
Maison de Verre, 1928-1932
The Jewish Museum in tandem with the interdisciplinary studio of Dill Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R), has organized the first ever U.S. exhibition, “Pierre Chareau: Modern Architecture and Design,” an exploration of his legacy that should lift the lid of obscurity in recognizing the designer’s many contributions. The show features 180 rarely seen pieces of furnishings and objects on loan from U.S. and European public and private collections and examines the life of Dollie and Pierre Chareau in Paris and New York.
Glass House/Projection of Interiors
A visually arresting virtual-reality installation from DS+R enhances the viewer experience as the interior settings seem to pop out, move, and come alive. There is also significant art from the Chareaus’ private collection from Modrian, Motherwell, and Modigliani, among others, brought to New York in 1940 after fleeing the German occupation in Paris. A certain sadness encroaches to think as émigrés the couple had to sell their beloved art piecemeal to pay living expenses.
Telephone table and Religieuse table lamp
Born of humble origins in Bordeaux, Pierre Chareau (1883-1950) lacked a formal education in architecture and began working as a draftsman at Waring and Gillow Furnishings in Paris. Eventually he went out on his own to become one of the most in-demand designers in France. His unique style linked the strict geometry of Art Deco and the functionalism and clean lines of International Style modernism inventing the technology along the way. Other distinctions include veneered wood and metals, particularly iron, and irregularities of hand-worked, unpolished surfaces. The sculptural designs were mechanized to pivot or expand into fan-shaped configurations. Many of these elements are incorporated to stunning effect for lamps, chairs, daybeds, and desks, several of which are on view.
Table and bookcase
DS+R used a variety of virtual reality technologies: projections onto strategically placed white screens create ghostly illusions showing function and societal context; interior environments are imagined digitally, the visitor’s first impression of the furniture is that it is encased in a black void. Once viewed through the virtual reality headsets (goggles), four environments are revealed: the Chareau residence and the Farhi Apartment both in Paris; the Grand Salon of the Maison de Verre, Paris; and a 360 degree panoramic view of the garden.
Telephone fan table and chairs
“Maison de Verre” (1928-1932), is the centerpiece of the exhibition and Chareau’s most famous project, a modern three-story townhouse commissioned by Dr. Jean Dalsace for his family and to house his medical practice. Chareau’s partners were Dutch architect Bernard Bijvoet, and Louis Delbet, a metal craftsman and frequent collaborator.
Installation view of the exhibition
Because there is no entire photographic view on record, DS+R dispatched staff to Paris to photograph sections and then produced a large-scale digital installation. Visitors can take a virtual walk-through becoming immersed in different levels, watching as a voyeur, the house in operation. This installation is overlaid with films that show the house as active and inhabited and is an opportunity to see the interplay of mechanical and circulation systems against the backdrop of its dramatic glass block and steel structure.
Robert Motherwell house
Chareau spent ten years in New York working at a much slower place. One substantial commission was the Robert Motherwell house in East Hampton (1947) unfortunately razed years ago. With ephemeral material, archives and photographs, the exhibition offers a full and rich portrait of this artist’s genius.
Presented in collaboration with The Centre Pompidou. Guest Curator Esther da Costa Meyer, Professor, History of Modern Architecture, Princeton University, assisted by Claudia Hanson, Morris and Eva Fled Curator at the Jewish Museum.
“Pierre Chareau: Modern Architecture and Design,” through March 26, 2017
The Jewish Museum, 1109 Fifth Avenue
CREDITS (in order):
Opening Photo: Glass House Hallway, Pierre Chareau (French, 1883-195) Bernard Bijvoet (Dutch, 1889-1979), Maison de Verre, 1928-1932.
Glass House/Front, Pierre Chareau (French, 1883-1950) and Bernard Bijvoet (Dutch, 1889-1979), Maison de Verre, 1928-1932.
Glass House/Projection of Interiors, Installation and Projection: Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Photo: Will Ragozzino/SocialShutterbug.com.
Telephone table with white lamp on top. Telephone table and Religieuse table lamp, c. 1924, Table: walnut and patinated wrought iron; Lamp: walnut, patinated wrought iron, and alabaster.
Table and bookcase c. 1930, walnut and black patinated wrought iron
Telephone fan table and chairs, Left to right: telephone fan table, c. 1924, wood. Two high-backed chauffeuses (fireside armchairs), c. 1925, wood and velours with tapestry upholstery by Jean Lurçat, reupholstered 1968. Photo: Will Ragozzino/SocialShutterbug.com.
Installation view of the exhibition. Photo: Will Ragozzino/SocialShutterbug.com
Robert Motherwell house. The second-floor balcony for Robert Motherwell’s house in East Hampton, New York, 1947. Photo courtesy of Miguel Saco Furniture and Restoration, Inc., New York
Artists, art lovers and arts journalists, like me, have long been drawn to the East End of the south fork of Long Island, known collectively, colloquially, and around the world as “The Hamptons.” There are countless reasons to visit, but the lure of two art fairs bringing over 100 international galleries tipped the scales, and meant it was time for Adel Gorgy, my artist husband, and me to make a trek to New York’s summertime sixth borough.
The journey east can be accomplished by public or private transportation, and, unless you’re among those who can helicopter out, all will take between two and three hours from the city. The Long Island Railroad offers service from Penn Station, and the Hamptons Jitney and other luxury bus lines pick passengers up in several Manhattan locations. We drove, and even that offers a few choices. Traveling on the Long Island Expressway (the Distressway to locals) is fast but unlovely – four lanes packed with cars and trucks and little to see. But arriving at the end of the road means you can head south on Route 24 via the small town of Flanders and see the Island’s top roadside attraction, the Big Duck, added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997. Built in the 1930’s as the storefront for a duck farm, the twenty-foot high canard convinced immigrant artist, Hedda Sterne, “that the United States was more surrealist, more extraordinary, than anything imagined by the Surrealists.” An alternate route, the Southern State Parkway to Route 27, closer to the shore and breezier, features mostly strip malls till you reach eastern Suffolk County, where it’s lined with trees and leads into the Pine Barrens, Long Island’s last remaining significant wilderness area.
Corn fields and mansions line Montauk Highway, the main route through the Hamptons
Most of the island was settled in the mid to late 1600s. The Hamptons fight to preserve some of that sense. The highways end at the western edge of Southampton, and rural roads and farms mingle with perfectly manicured hedges hiding luxurious estates. Small towns feel homey and quaint. 300-year-old windmills, lovingly maintained, dot the sides of the roads, along with clapboard churches with pointy spires, the tallest buildings to scrape the clear blue ocean swept skies. Everything is spotless, picture-book perfect.
Historic windmills are a common sight in the Hamptons
The main streets of Southampton, Watermill, Bridgehampton, East Hampton, Amagansett and Sag Harbor all boast upscale shops and restaurants where it can be hard to tell the heiresses, movie stars and business moguls, many in flip-flops and shorts, from the organic farmers and local chefs. But we were hunting different quarry: an extraordinary first-hand art experience.
Since the 1800s when William Merritt Chase opened a painting school here, the area has lured artists like Winslow Homer, Milton Avery, Jackson Pollock and his wife Lee Krasner, Helen Frankenthaler and her husband Robert Motherwell, Willem and Elaine de Kooning, and Andy Warhol. The area’s initial draw was, ironically, bargain-priced real estate, but it’s still home to art stars, like Richard Prince, Eric Fischl and his wife April Gornik, Julian Schnabel and Donald Sultan. A trip to either of the two stellar local museums, the Parrish Art Museum or East Hampton’s Guild Hall, will almost always reward with major works by local artists of the past and present. This summer, at the Parrish, Connections and Context highlights Helen Frankenthaler, Ellsworth Kelley, Dorothea Rockburne and Donald Sultan among others, and, starting in August, Guild Hall’s museum focuses on Minimalism with a special exhibition including Donald Judd, Agnes Martin, and Gerhard Richter.
Main Street, Bridgehampton serves up shops, galleries and out of this world pies
Arriving well before the opening of the art fairs allowed us a walk up Main Street in Bridgehampton and stops in Kathryn Markel Fine Arts and Chase Edwards Gallery. Both exhibit the work of contemporary artists, while Julian Beck and Mark Borghi Gallery offer museum-quality modern masters.
Since even artists don’t live by art alone, and a long night of art partying awaited, it was necessary to fortify our bodies to fuel the soul, i.e., time for something to eat. Bobby Van’s steakhouse is a popular spot, but we opted for a cozy booth at World Pie, which specializes in an extensive menu of wood-fired pizzas. A crispy, hot Patti’s Pie with mushrooms, onions and roasted garlic, mozzarella and tomato sauce arrived in minutes. The crust was thin and smoky, the cheese melted perfectly, and a glass of Italian red made us think we’d slipstreamed to Naples. Dinner for two, around $50.
As the sun slid behind the hedgerows and the blue of the sky deepened, we headed to Nova’s Ark, a 95-acre park featuring monumental sculptures by a local legend known simply as “Nova.” It brought to mind a grassy version of Monet’s Giverny. Though the property is open to visitors, its Cinderella moment is the four days each summer it hosts a Hamptons art fair. Crews arrive, gently coaxing horses and sheep off their usual grazing grounds, to raise an enormous, air-conditioned, museum-lit, catered construction that can only be called a tent if you’re willing to call the QE2 a boat.
Fabulously dressed Hamptonites tiptoed across the field to avoid what was left by the equine occupants and joined the VIP opening filled with music and noise, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. For some, people spotting and partying was the point, but for us, the payoff was lining the walls of over 70 room-sized booths where top-notch galleries from around the world presented their best. We saw an extraordinary early painting by Robert Delaunay at London’s Trinity House Gallery, delicate watercolors of cranes and owls in flight by Karl Martens, sculptures by Jeff Koons and Lynn Chadwick at Taylor Graham, and a whole booth filled with fish paintings by Academy Award winning actor, Adrien Brody. While opening night crowds may be raucous and fun, they don’t encourage thoughtful responses to works that artists have pondered, sweated, loved and labored over. We decided to return the next day at a quieter time for the second of our targets, the Market Art + Design fair.
A quiet Sunday morning in the Hamptons
If you’re lucky enough to have friends in the area as we are, nothing beats watching the night fall and a low hung crescent moon reflected on Peconic Bay as crickets chirped and fireflies put on a dazzling display. If not, there are many charming, historic B&B’s in the Hamptons, or, if they’re not within your budget, Riverhead to the west and Montauk to the east also offer family-friendly motels at more down-to-earth prices.
A late breakfast or early lunch is easy to find at either one of the branches of Citarella, which has a great selection of baked goods and on-the-go meals, or the Golden Pear (one in each town). Of course, it’s possible to dine your way through the Hamptons, but that would just keep us away from the art.
Dia Bridgehampton, a one-man museum for Long Island artist, Dan Flavin
Before heading into Market Art + Design on the Bridgehampton Museum grounds, we stopped just across the street at one of the most moving, enriching, exciting and plain fun art experiences available on Long Island, or anywhere. The Dan Flavin Art Institute, housed in a former Baptist church, just off Main Street, was built by the Dia Art Foundation in the 80s to exhibit some of Flavin’s greatest works.
Fields of a different sort at the Dan Flavin Art Institute in Bridgehampton
His candy-colored fluorescent light sculptures create clouds of ethereal hues the viewer steps into, becoming one with art, drenched in their glow. It’s transportive and transformative. Dia associate curator Alexis Lowry, said, “Part of the reason it’s not in New York City was to try to get you into of the mindset of going to travel to a site to have this dedicated experience. It’s part of the package.”
Market Art + Deisgin, 2016, over 40 international galleries and hundreds of contemporary artists exhibiting under one roof.
Market Art + Design brought a smaller group, with over 40 exhibitors, but it was expertly curated to include international, national, and even local galleries presenting fine art and design under one roof. Eclectic, energetic works from up-and-coming creatives contrasted with the more established artists seen at Art Southampton, and gave the fair a hipper vibe. Even between two ends of tiny Bridgehampton, there was an uptown/downtown feeling of contrasting sensibilities.
Compositions made of individually carved, one-of-a-kind signature stamps or chops at Able Fine Art NY Gallery
Sundaram Tagore Gallery opened the show with a strong collection of sculptures, photographs and paintings. Three outstanding gelatin silver prints by world renowned photographer, Sebastião Salgado were a highlight. At Able Fine Art NY Gallery, director Michelle Yu explained the painstaking process used by Kwanwoo Lee to create his Condensation series where a single image is composed of hundreds of unique, hand-carved stamps. Hector Leonardi’s colorful abstractions at Walker Waugh were gently powerful and evocative. At Galerie Fledermaus, Jerry Suqi presented a rare collection of collotypes by Gustav Klimt. They were created by the artist to document his paintings, in an edition of 230. Miniature masterpieces, each perfectly reproduces a major work. To see Adele Bloch-Bauer, (the Woman in Gold) along with so many other iconic works all lining one wall, in a booth, in a tent, in a small town, on Long Island was mind-boggling, in itself. It also offered a brush with history.
A rare collotype from Gustav Klimt’s Das Werk at Galerie Fledermaus
We headed to the Hamptons hoping for a unique experience of art. We left having had several. From pastoral fields, to a one-man museum, to tents filled with old masters to contemporary treasures, all were moving and exciting. The weekend had come to a close, and it was time to head back, though I’ve learned from sharing my life with Adel that you take the art with you. As Henry David Thoreau wrote, “Music is perpetual, and only the hearing is intermittent.” Sometimes, a journey brings it closer, but it’s always there, if you listen.
All photos by Adel Gorgy
Roy Lichtenstein’s Tokyo Brushstroke I & II outside the Parrish Art Museum announce your arrival at an enclave of art in the Hamptons Photos by Adel Gorgy