She invited everyone to open their 'fan' gaze. A delicate way of saying: "never stop at the first step, go further, because art can hide everywhere".
Charlotte Perriand had made this exhortation a philosophy of life. She, who throughout her career has been able to range with extreme nonchalance between architecture and design, photography and sculpture, politics and civil commitment.
Charlotte Perriand: a versatile designer
The M77 gallery in Milan is now dedicating an exhibition to the great French designer that has the aftertaste of homage. Charlotte Perriand. Avant-garde is woman, in fact, focuses on the versatile production of this splendid French designer and compares her photographic production from the 1930s with a selection of iconic furnishings produced exclusively by Cassina.
The exhibition, set up from 27 June to 22 September, is curated by Enrica Viganò and is organized in collaboration with Archives Charlotte Perriand, Admira and Cassina.
The focal point of the exhibition is to demonstrate, if ever there was still a need, how much avant-garde there was in the choices of the transalpine artist.
How much avant-garde was there in Charlotte Perriand?
"There was a lot of it - explain us Giuseppe Lezzi and Emanuela Baccaro, owners of M77 - Perriand's visionary nature, his being ahead of his time, are characteristics of a sensitivity out of the ordinary that denote a very specific mental attitude.
It is thanks to him that Charlotte has been able to emerge in a professional world dominated practically only by men, who have often made the history of modernism, aesthetics, thought".
According to the two gallery owners, Perriand was therefore twice revolutionary: first because she managed to enter that world but, from the main door, second because she succeeded, with her grace and her tenacity, to become an active part of it.
"With her freshness, sensitivity, intelligence, - the two always say - she really upset Modernism from its foundations. A revolution not only aesthetic but also social and identity".
The designer's story seems to come out of an adventure book. Parisian, born in 1903, studies at the Central Union of Arts Décoratifs (UCAD), Charlotte has always gone against the tide. Ever since you were 25 years old you have scandalized everyone by deciding to become an architect, a profession at the time considered exclusively male.
After graduating in Interior Design, she shared the research principles of the Bauhaus, rejecting traditional decorative canons and embracing the use of new industrial materials. For years she has lived in the shadow of male figures, yet she has always been considered a pioneer of modernism and the great forerunner of artistic multiculturalism.
You have experimented with an infinite number of languages, mixing various sensibilities thanks to collaborations that will revolutionize not only the world of design but that of creativity in general. Extraordinary were the projects carried out jointly with architects Le Corbusier and Prouvé , and with artists such as Léger, Picasso, Calder, Sonia Delaunay or the Japanese Hisao Dômoto and Sôfu Teshigahara.
Brave on the verge of unconsciousness, she loved swimming, skiing, hiking. She famous the phrase of her in which she says: "Better to spend a day in the sun than to spend it dusting our useless objects".
"We don't embroider cushions here," Le Corbusier told her ...
She was a symbol of female revenge against the conventions of the time. A revenge that still lasts today. "Women have had and must give more and more than men to have the same recognition with the same skills, talent, social background. - say almost in unison Lezzi and Baccaro - This is sadly true today and has been even more so in the past."
"Here we don't embroider cushions" replied in 1927 Le Corbusier liquidating the very young Charlotte Perriand, who proposed to the great architect to work in her studio, obviously all male. Fortunately, talent prevailed in the end".
A talent cultivated every day thanks to constant studies, to theses that proposed a 'synthesis of the arts' and to wandering around the world. In 1940 she was invited by the Japanese government as a consultant for the national production of industrial design, in 1943 she moved to Indochina. She will return to Paris three years later.
The exhibition: between secret shots and art brut
In the spaces of via Mecenate there is all this hunger for knowledge and joie de vivre. The tour unfolds along a thematic path. A selection of shots taken in the mountains is presented, which the artist considered his ideal retreat.
Among these stands out the most iconic image of all, where we see Charlotte, proud, with bare shoulders in front of the Savoy snow, raising her ski gloves to the sky as a sign of victory and total freedom. The journey then continues with the portraits together with friends Le Corbusier and Fernand Léger.
And above all with the series that the Parisian artist wanted to call Art Brut, in which some natural objet-trouvés, often found almost by chance along the beaches of Normandy, are photographed in still life mode and transformed into real sculptures contemporary.
An unreleased docu-film
A corollary to the exhibition is also an unpublished docufilm. It is Creer l'Abitat au XXe Siecle, curated by Jacques Barsac. The video was made in 1985 and Charlotte herself, then in her eighties, can be seen accompanying the viewer through the most important moments in her life. In the film, the archive images alternate with documents, drawings, projects and furnishings.
Finally, among the imposing mass of photos signed by Perriand and exhibited in Milan, there are those taken by the sea and in urban centers in England, France, and Japan. Every single object, even the most relevant, present within the frame, becomes a source of inspiration: the geometric shapes of the buildings, their scaffolding, the intricate macramé of streets, a lamppost, the reflection of the shadow on a wall they are the starting point for its furnishings and architecture. "Art is in everything - she said - It is in life and is expressed on every occasion and in all countries".