Charlotte Perriand, Manège, Croatia, 1937. Charlotte Perriand Archives
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Charlotte Perriand. The avant-garde is woman: a conversation with her dearest friends

The avant-garde is woman

On a journey to celebrate Charlotte Perriand’s photographic production, M77 is proud to present an exhibition curated by Enrica Viganò. The project is titled Charlotte Perriand.

The avant-garde is woman, was developed in collaboration with Archives Charlotte Perriand, Admira, and Cassina. The showcase was open to the public on June 27 at 7 pm and will unfold until September 25, 2022.

The exhibition intends to shed light on the rich and versatile production of Charlotte Perriand, the famous French designer and photographer.

Perriand, around the 30s, was a close collaborator and friend of Le Corbusier and other greats of her time. The project puts her photographic production in dialogue with a selection of the iconic furnishings produced exclusively by Cassina.

Perriand’s legacy

Charlotte Perriand was a complex and eclectic figure, a woman who crossed the entire twentieth century with enthusiasm and curiosity.

By fully experiencing the great season of the development of industrial culture and, therefore, modernity, Perriand earned a reputation. Daughter of the avant-gardes of her time, she shone for her intelligence, non-conformism, and originality of her thought.

A pioneer of modernism, she has experimented with a significant plurality of languages. ​​Architecture, design, urban planning, photography, politics, and civil commitment are only a few of her legacy. She went beyond conventions and opened her mind to a new way of thinking about life, forms, and space.

Tireless traveler, she has worked for a long time in Asia, making the encounter with another culture a rich opportunity. It allowed her to increase her creativity and learn new ways of imagining things. Moreover, planning and opening up – ahead of the times – to multiculturalism.

Charlotte Perriand on the snow. Charlotte Perriand Archives
Charlotte Perriand on the snow. Charlotte Perriand Archives

A dialogue with friends

The exhibition for the spaces of the M77 gallery is divided into thematic areas. The path aims to offer a detailed exploration of the main aspects of Charlotte Perriand’s work and sensitivity.

In the first part of the exhibition, a selection of photographs is presented with the mountains as its subject. This place was dear to the artist and a great source of inspiration. Following her most famous friendships, Le Corbusier and Fernand Léger will become part of the exhibition.

The path continues with the series she called Art Brut, where natural object-trouvés are photographed as still life. Often found on the beaches of Normandy, they emerge under the artist’s gaze as authentic works of art. The overview on the ground floor ends with two large photographs of a block of ice.

Perriand transforms it into a symbol and metaphor with the hands that raise it. In the center, the iconic portrait of Perriand is shirtless in a victorious attitude on a peak in Savoy.

On the first floor, a selection of photographs of maritime landscapes (boats, nets, and bathing scenes) and urban centers (the subway, various glimpses of daily life) ends the itinerary, immortalized in Croatia, England, Paris, and Japan.

Shots everywhere were jotted down as visual notes for her all-around creativity. The shapes of objects and structures become an inspiration for the forms of her furnishings and her architecture.

The life of an anti-conformist 

At twenty, Perriand decided to become an architect, a profession judged exclusively for men. She obtained her diploma in Interior Design in 1925, following the research poetics of the Bauhaus. She rejected traditional decorative canons and embraced the use of new industrial materials.

She began collaborating with the architect Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret at the famous atelier 35 in rue de Sèvres in Paris. During these years, she started her intense photographic production. Together with Herbst, Bourgeois, Fouquet, Sandoz and Puiforcat, she formed the avant-garde group L’unité de choc.

With them, she exhibited her Salle à manger, designed at the Salon des Artistes Décorateurs. Two years later, followed by her avant-garde group, she established UAM (Union des Artistes Modernes). She then will meet Walter Gropius and Fernand Léger, with whom she will establish a close friendship and artistic collaboration.

Her living concept has always been marked by the need to combine diverse aspects. Technical and scientific knowledge of materials had to be concerning space and how we live and occupy it. Between 1933 and 1937, she pursued her research into experimental photography.

Art Brut and Objets Trouvés series

That’s how the Art Brut and Objets Trouvés series were born that she made on location or in her studio. In the same years, during the Spanish Civil War, she participated in demonstrations alongside the Republicans. Perriand participated in the Communist Party intellectual circles, where she met Mirò, Picasso, André Malraux, Léger himself and Blaise Cendrars.

After a ten-year collaboration with Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret, she left the studio in March 1937. The Japanese government later invited her as a consultant for the national industrial design production. The experience in Japan greatly influenced her thinking and the way she worked.

Perriand tried to apply the new industrial forms to the local tradition. She then moved to Indochina and married Jacques Martin, with whom she will have a daughter, Pernette.

Returning to Paris, Perriand became the head of the French delegation at the 9th Milan Triennale Furniture and Decoration. The furniture designed by Le Corbusier-Jeanneret-Perriand was reissued in 1964 by the Italian company Cassina.

At the end of the twentieth century, she curated three retrospectives on his work: Charlotte Perriand Modernist Pioneer at the Design Museum in London, Charlotte Perriand Pioneer 20th Century at the Living Design Center Ozone in Tokyo, and Une connivance Charlotte Perriand-Fernand Léger at the Musée National Fernand Léger.

Charlotte Perriand

Charlotte Perriand was born in Paris on October 24, 1903. She studied at the Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs (UCAD) in Paris between 1921 and 1925. She died on October 27, 1999, in Paris. In 2005 an anthological exhibition was held at the Center Pompidou in Paris.

In 2010 the exhibition Charlotte Perriand. Designer, photographer, activist at the Museum für Gestaltung in Zurich. In 2011 Charlotte Perriand, de la photographie au design at the Petit Palais in Paris.

Finally, in 2012 Charlotte Perriand, la photographie pour un autre monde at the Musée Nicéphore Niépce in Chalon sur Saône, France. In 2011 the catalog Charlotte Perriand et la Photographie was published by 5 Continents. Her daughter Pernette is currently in charge of the Charlotte Perriand Archives.

The writer does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article.

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check and buy on Prototipo Store
item collections in limited edition
crafted according to our editorial search

Hemp / made in Italy
Lampoon is working to restore
Hemp production in Italy
as hemp is the one and only
natural vegetal fiber sourceable in the country
for more info, please email us at [email protected]

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