NEW YORK.- The Gallery of the New York School of Interior Design presents two exhibitions through December 20, 2008, that capture design styles of the 1920s. Fashioning the Modern French Interior: Pochoir Portfolios in the 1920s is an exhibition of over 70 prints selected from four important French interior-design portfolios produced in the 1920s. Utilizing a traditional technique known as pochoir, highly skilled artisans manually colored these prints with the aid of carefully cut stencils. Organized by The WolfsonianFlorida International University in Miami Beach, Florida, the exhibition highlights the importance of these portfolios in promoting the Style Moderne, later known as Art Deco. A complementary photography exhibition entitled Art Deco New York will be on view in the Schools anterior gallery space.
The modern French interiors of the 1920s, exemplified by the work of Robert Mallet-Stevens, Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, Charlotte Perriand, and Eileen Gray, remain as fresh today as nearly a century ago. The richly illustrated pochoir prints on display clearly demonstrate why contemporary interior designers and architects still look to this period and its innovators for inspiration, remarked Scott Ageloff, NYSIDs Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean, IDEC, ASID, AIA.
The centuries-old pochoir technique, first introduced to commercial publishing in France in the late 1800s, allows for particularly rich and warm colors that could not be captured by photography. The painstaking process entailed the application of between 20 and 250 different stencils affixed one by one to a single sheet to establish each page layout. Each color was then individually applied using separate brushes. The bright colors and bold, geometric shapes that seemingly burst out of the picture plane provided designers with an artistic and decidedly non-commercial way to popularize the clean lines and elegant functionality of Art Deco. Intended for design connoisseurs and the French elite, these lavish, vibrant portfolios were produced in limited numbers and soon became valued collectors items.
The use of the pochoir technique also influenced the work of the European avant-garde and Post-War American artists. France was at the forefront of the scientific understanding of color throughout the 19th century, and the brilliant pigments afforded by the pochoir influenced both industrial and artistic applications of color. Piet Mondrian used the technique to augment his ideas of abstraction, and Sonia and Robert Delaunay drew from related innovations in graphic design and influenced many members of their circle. Subsequent design methods such as serigraphy and silk-screening, a preferred format for Andy Warhol and Richard Prince, can also be traced back to the pochoir technique.
In addition to pochoir prints, the portfolios also feature drawings and photographs of finished interiors, to help potential clients fully visualize the possibilities of modern design. Together, these images provide stunning visions of dining rooms, personal libraries and studies, living rooms and foyers, stairwell nooks, bedrooms, as well as stylish telephone rooms, wet bars and even home gyms.
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated book published by Princeton Architectural Press, Moderne: Fashioning the French Interior, written by Wolfsonian curator Sarah Schleuning with an essay by Jeremy Aynsley, Head of the School of Humanities & Professor of History of Design at the Royal College of Art, London.
Complementary Photography Exhibition: Art Deco New York
As a companion to Fashioning the Modern French Interior, New York School of Interior Design will present an exhibition detailing architectural and design trends in 1920s New York City. Featuring photographic images taken from David Garrard Lowes book of the same name, Art Deco New York examines some of New Yorks most celebrated structures and interiors of the Deco era. Highlights include period photographs of the Waldorf-Astoria, Tiffany & Co., the Ziegfeld theater, the Cotton Club and other restaurants and night clubs, private apartments, and the Chrysler building. Images of murals and posters will round out this look at a crucial moment in New Yorks cultural history. Also on view from September 25 through December 20, 2008, the exhibition will be curated by David Garrard Lowe.