Friday, April 3, 2009

an irishwoman in Paris

Sorry this is late, but this was a week of news! I registered for my Fall 2009 classes (already?? you might be asking, and yes, that was my reaction as well), I was accepted into a summer program I applied for, AND was offered a full scholarship for it! So, it's been good, oh yes.

We're in the midst of looking at the Art Deco movement in one of my classes, and I could not be happier. This piece comes from that.This unique sofa was designed and constructed by Eileen Gray in 1919-20. It is in the collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, although it is not currently on display due to the VMFA's current expansion. In fact, none of the 19th and 20th Century decorative arts are on display during all of this, a state of affairs which causes me great sadness, as the VMFA's collection of Art Nouveau and Art Deco pieces is fantastic. Anyway.

Eileen Gray was a fascinating figure. Irish by birth, she lived in Paris for most of her life. Beginning in 1907, she was taught the art of Japanese lacquer by Seizo Sugawara, a master of the craft. Lacquer is a difficult, labor-intensive process at which Gray excelled, as evidenced by this sofa as well as her screens. Although many Art Deco artists looked to exotic cultures for inspiration, few suceeded so well as Gray with this sofa, inspired by the Polynesian dugout canoes (canoes made from a single tree).

Below is an image of Gray's apartment in the Rue de Lota in Paris. Can't you just see a beautiful woman in a silky, slinky dress draped across it? She wouldn't be doing anything--woman like her never do, you know--but she would look gorgeous.

No comments: