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Program Feb–March 2022 is the latest in an ongoing series of exhibitions curated by Demisch Danant to explore innovation and influences in French post-war design and art of the 1950s through 1970s.

 

Formes Utiles
A new generation of French designers

…forms that manifest the agreement between the constraints of the material and the aspirations of the spirit are useful (and beautiful). - André Hermant, 1959.

The mission of the organisation Formes Utiles, created by the Union des Artistes Modernes (UAM), was to introduce the public to new everyday furniture and objects of quality, of beautiful and functional forms. Formes Utiles presented works by young designers – Janine Abraham and Dirk Jan Rol, René-Jean Caillette, Pierre Gautier-Delaye, Jacques Dumond, Pierre Guariche, André Monpoix, Joseph-André Motte, Pierre Paulin and Alain Richard – who pursued the ideals and objectives of the generation of the 1930s before them that pioneered Modernity in France.

Every year, as part of the Salon des Arts Ménagers (SAM) in Paris, the Formes Utiles exhibitions of furniture, lighting and everyday objects continued to champion the modernist concepts developed by these Modernist pioneers:
- The relationship between form and function;
- The relationship between form and structure;
- The notion of functionality;
- The sculptural qualities and significance of form.
Any notion of superfluous decoration or ornamentation was automatically eliminated in favour of purely functional concepts; always under-pinned by a design of great simplicity in the interest of economy of means, necessary for mass production at minimal cost. The elegance of these creations is often the result of a perfect mastery of proportion and of the balance between form and function.

The aim of Demisch Danant’s exhibition is to reveal the spirit of Formes Utiles, where a certain radicality of design is tempered by the use of natural materials, such as wood, combined with industrial products such as metal, glass or Formica.

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Disderot Lighting
Innovation in French lighting 1955-1965

Within the context of all the innovations and industrial developments taking shape in 1948 France, Pierre Disderot (1921–1991) opened his own workshop and dedicated himself to the production of lighting fixtures. He showed great affinity and sensibility towards contemporary architecture, which inspired and influenced his inclination towards modernity.

At the beginning of the 1950s, Disderot connected with Pierre Guariche, a designer whom he had known as a student at the École Breguet. A deep intellectual and professional compatibility led to a collaboration on some 50 lighting models, many of which have become synonymous of French Modernity. Michel Mortier and Joseph-André Motte, with whom Guariche founded the Atelier des Recherches Plastiques (A.R.P.), also joined in designing lighting with Disderot, together producing some 15 models under A.R.P., and then continuing throughout the 1960s to design lights under their respective names.

From 1952 onwards, Pierre Disderot attended the Salon des Arts Ménagers (SAM) and met with many of the young French designers of the moment. His workshops saw many of the avant-garde designers of the 1950s and ‘60s pass through; among the most well-known were René-Jean Caillette, Pierre Paulin, André Simard, Étienne Fermigier, Alain Richard, Olivier Mourgue and Roger Fatus, all of whom produced lights exclusively for Disderot.

Demisch Danant’s selection of Disderot Lighting aims to highlight the best models from each of these designers. Made of lacquered metal, brass, aluminum, steel, Rotaflex and Plexiglas, what these lights all have in common is a purity of line, a perfect balance linked to great precision of assembly and faultless functionality.

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Albert Féraud
The poetry of metal

Born in Paris in 1921, Albert Féraud studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Montpellier and then Marseille, where he became friends with César, with whom he would later meet again at the Beaux-Arts in Paris, in Alfred Janniot’s studio. In 1951, Féraud won the Grand Prix de Rome for sculpture and spent three years in residence at the Villa Medici, pursuing his training in classical sculpture.

On his return to France in 1954, Féraud found himself floundering in self-doubt, which gradually drove him to abandon the figurative style he had adopted from his student days. He turned towards an unseen sculptural vocabulary, experimenting with new materials such as molten lead. As Féraud’s college friends, César and Michel Guino, started experimenting with iron and welding, he too embarked on this path of joining the generation of ‘scrap merchants’ and ‘salvagers.’

Starting in the 1960s, Féraud’s work increasingly moved towards abstraction. He became passionate about casting lines, curves, volutes, and arabesques. He progressively concentrated on stainless steel, a material that offers all the qualities required for being cut, folded into shape and welded together, which also became the material that would come to define Féraud’s work. Steel enabled Féraud to give full and free reign of his poetic expression. The reflective surface of stainless steel distributes light, prompting Raoul-Jean Moulin to say, “Féraud’s metal sculpture is an explosion of form into light, an illumination of fire in the jungle of steel.”

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Presentation - NP
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