Eileen Gray event
at the New York School of Interior Design | April 13, 2015
Eileen Gray: Why Now?
Her life spanned the majority of the 20th century and she had witnesses the phenomenal advances and transformations in art, design, architecture, and technology that came to shape that century. Eileen Gray was born in Ireland and moved to Paris when she was 24. She was soon discovered by French couturier Jacques Doucet and created for his new temple of art some of the most breathtaking furniture of that era. In Paris, surrounded by some of the leading figures in the French avant-garde, she made her own contribution to the modern movement. Picasso, Braque, Leger, Duchamp, Rodin, Modigliani, Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo whom she met when traveling to Mexico in the 30s, and of course, Jean Badovici the architect and critic for whom she built the famed E1027, a villa in the French Riviera, overlooking Monaco.
She has been particularly known for the furniture in lacquer which she created in Paris during the 1910’s and 20’s in collaboration with Japanese lacquer artist Seizo Sugawara, and which she sold in her Parisian shop Jean Desert. She has also been known for the E1027 villa and its furnishings, but Gray was largely forgotten and ignored by those writing the history of Modern design. An article by architectural critic published in 1968 in Domus Magazine was the turning point. Shortly after that seminal article, her lacquer screen was sold from the collection of couturier Jacques Doucet for a record price. But it was not until very recently that Gray’s vision and achievements were truly discovered and she came to be regarded as one of the most influential figures in modern design and architecture.
A monograph exhibition at the Centre Pompidou, curated by Cloé Pitiot opened in 2013, followed by a retrospective at the National Museum of Ireland, curated by Pitiot and Jennifer Goff; two films on Gray, the documentary “Gray Matters” (directed by Marco Orsini) and the feature “The Price of Desire” (directed by Mary McGuckian) aired in 2014; E1027 will be open to the public for the first time next month after a long and extensive restoration project; Jennifer Goeff’s publication “Eileen Gray: Her Work and Her World” was recently published; and another retrospective will be open at the BGC next year. Eileen Gray is everywhere.
I therefore called this event Eileen Gray, Why Now?
To explore that phenomenal revival.
Curator of Furniture, Silver, and the Eileen Gray Collection at the National Museum of Ireland, Jennifer is recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on Gray’s legacy. Her book “Eileen Gray, Her Work and Her World,” is a comprehensive overview of Gray’s fascinating biography. She is a consultant in the upcoming exhibition on Eileen Gray at the Bard Graduate Center.
Cloé Pitiot, Ph.D.
An architect, educator in the history of decorative arts at the University Paris Pantheon-Sorbonne, Cloe is the design curator at the National Museum of Modern Art - Centre Georges Pompidou. In 2013, she curated the exhibition “ Eileen Gray” at the Centre Pompidou and co-curated “Eileen Gray, architect, designer, painter” at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin. She is the curator of the upcoming exhibition on Eileen Gray at The Bard Graduate Center Gallery, which will open next spring.
Fonder of Sandra Gering Inc, a gallery dedicated to contemporary art, Sandra is the founder of the Friends of E.1027, an organization devoted to raising funds for the restoration and preservation of the modernist villa.
Director of famed DeLorenzo Gallery, Adriana Friedman is responsible for both acquisitions and sales. Considered an industry expert and leading dealer of French Art Deco, she as dealt with extraordinarily large number of pieces by Eileen Gray.