Pierre Chareau’s Deco Designs Are Tough Enough for Today

THE DAILY PIC: The Jewish Museum surveys Chareau, 1930s pioneer of our industrial loft esthetic.

THE DAILY PIC (#1738): Here’s yet another great New York show of a lesser-known modernist: “Pierre Chareau: Modern Architecture and Design,” at the Jewish Museum. Chareau is often billed as a genius of Art Deco, but his famous Glass House in Paris shows that he’s really a precursor of the tough, industrial aesthetic of the last 40 years. I wonder if the guts-on-the-outside Centre Pompidou would have existed without his example?

But the best thing about the JewMu’s Chareau show is that the Glass House itself comes off as almost an afterthought in its curating, represented by a high-tech digital fly-through. (The fly-through’s not great, but the show also includes truly amazing 3-D, virtual-reality immersions in Chareau projects.) The Glass House itself, finished in 1932, is hardly more impressive than a lot of the work from before it, like the 1927 folding chair at left in today’s image. And from after it, like Chareau’s final project, the 1947 Quonset-hut home he built for the painter Robert Motherwell, after Chareau had fled Nazi-occupied Paris for New York.

Chareau died at 67, in 1950. I feel certain that, had he lived even one decade longer, he would have turned out some of the greatest projects in postwar design. (Chair: Centre Pompidou, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre de Creation Industrielle, Paris; photo by Bertrand Prévost, courtesy CNAC / MNAM / Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Art Resource, New York. House: Photo by Judith Turner, courtesy Miguel Saco Furniture and Restoration, Inc., New York)

For a full survey of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.

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