Perriand oui, Prouvé non

. Saturday, March 3, 2012

Anyone that knows me, knows I love Charlotte Perriand, and I was pleased when this story broke. I wonder if we will see future posthumous battles for design credit from other heirs (Noguchi vs. Robsjohn-Gibbings comes to mind).

From ArtInfo France:

French Court Backs Charlotte Perriand Over Jean Prouvé in Posthumous Battle of the Design Stars

Last week a Paris appeals court issued a decision in favor of the heir of Charlotte Perriand, who had accused Bergerot-Galerie Patrick Seguin and the Sonnabend Gallery of wrongly denying Perriand's exclusive authorship of three designs. The pieces involved are the Tunisia, Mexico, and Cloud bookcases; the Air France or Tokyo stackable table; and a table and stool with triangular and spindle-shaped legs. The two galleries must pay €50,000 ($66,000) in damages to Pernette Martin-Barsac for having claimed that Perriand's sometime collaborator Jean Prouvé contributed to designing the three items.

For seven years, Martin-Barsac, Perriand's daughter, contested the notion of Prouvé's shared responsibility for the designs. The story began when the Pompidou Center hosted a retrospective of Perriand's work in 2005. The bookshelves for the Tunisia House in the University of Paris's student residences were accompanied by the following description: "the estate of Jean Prouvé (1901-1984) claimed that Prouvé participated in the design of these bookshelves, which was contested by the estate of Charlotte Perriand." Since then, the same disclaimer has appeared on the three designs in question whenever they have appeared at auction. But now the court has recognized Perriand as the sole creator of the designs.

Perriand struggled with similar authorship issues during her lifetime, objecting when the Tunisia bookshelves were put on the market in 1950 with the label "Jean Prouvé Studios." She was first noticed in 1927, at the age of 24, when critics raved about her "bar under the roof" of chrome-plated steel and anodized aluminum. In 1929, she joined the Association of Revolutionary Writers and Artists, alongside designers such as Paul Vaillant-Couturier and writers including André Gide, Paul Eluard, and André Malraux. For the 1935 World's Fair, she collaborated with Le Corbusier, René Herbst, Louis Sognot, and Pierre Jeanneret to create the "Young Man's House," which was divided into two parts representing the mind and the body. Perriand went on to revolutionize furnishings in the 1950s, making a name for herself in a field dominated by men. Now, this legal decision has affirmed her sole authorship of these three seminal designs.

1st photo is from Perriand Archives/ArtInfo, 2nd from Wright, 3rd from Phillips de Pury.  The 4th photo below is from 1953 and shows the Tunisie bookcase in situ, via centrepompidou.

Thanks Meaghan for the link!


Anonymous said...


French Kitsch said...

Thank you for posting this and further giving Charlotte Perriand the credit she deserves, that has long been overdue. I live in France and go to the brocantes every weekend. Although I love the work of Prouvé, it's only been recently that more light has been shed on her genius, and not that her work is the silver medal, and his is the gold ! They have equal stature !

Camille Claudel to Rodin !

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