The Jewish Museum presents the first US exhibition focused on French designer and architect Pierre Chareau (1883–1950). Showcasing rare furniture, lighting fixtures, and interiors, as well as designs for the extraordinary Maison de Verre, the glass house completed in Paris in 1932, the exhibition brings together over 180 rarely seen works from major public and private collections in Europe and the United States.
Pierre Chareau rose from modest beginnings in Bordeaux to become one of the most sought-after designers in France. Creating custom furniture and interiors for a distinguished clientele that included leading figures of the French-Jewish intelligentsia, Chareau balanced the opulence of traditional French decorative arts with interior designs that were elegant, functional, and in sync with the requirements of modern life. His innovative furniture, veneered in rare woods with occasional touches of exotic materials, had clean profiles and movable parts that appealed to the sensibilities of the progressive bourgeoisie.
Between the wars, Chareau designed primarily for a cultured urban elite, and many of his patrons were Jewish. With the German occupation of Paris in 1940, his many Jewish clients were forced to leave. Chareau, whose wife Dollie Dyte Chareau was Jewish and whose mother came from a Sephardic family, fled to the United States. The exhibition will also explore the enduring consequences of Chareau’s flight from Nazi persecution, the dispersal of many of the works he designed during and after World War II, and his attempts to rebuild his career while in exile in New York during the 1940s.
Pierre Chareau: Modern Architecture and Design proposes a fresh look at the internationally recognized designer and examines his work in the Parisian cultural context between the wars to highlight his circle of influential patrons, engagement with the period’s foremost artists, and designs for the film industry. Together with his wife Dollie, Chareau was an active patron of the arts, and the exhibition reunites several pieces from their collection of paintings, sculptures, and drawings by significant artists such as Piet Mondrian, Amedeo Modigliani, Jacques Lipchitz, and Max Ernst.
The exhibition also addresses Chareau’s life and work in the New York area, after he left Paris during the German occupation of the city, including the house he designed for Robert Motherwell in 1947 in East Hampton, Long Island.
Pierre Chareau: Modern Architecture and Design, November 4, 2016 – March 26, 2017. The Jewish Museum, 1109 5th Ave at 92nd St, NY.