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Fashioning the Modern French Interior: Pochoir Portfolios in the 1920s at The Wolfsonian
Plate 28, Bureau (Office) Designed by Étienne Kohlmann (French, 1903–1988) for Studium-Louvre. Pochoir by Jean Saudé (French, active 1890–1930s) From Intérieurs III (Interiors), 1925 Published by Albert Lévy, Paris. Credit: The Wolfsonian–Florida International University, Miami Beach, Florida, The Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection. XB1991.1304. Photo: Silvia Ros.

MIAMI BEACH, FL.- The Wolfsonian-Florida International University will present an exciting exhibition that offers an innovative, in-depth look at the promotion and dissemination of design. Fashioning the Modern French Interior: Pochoir Portfolios in the 1920s will open at The Wolfsonian on November 16, 2007 and remain on view through May 11, 2008.

The focus of the exhibition is on the depiction of modern interiors in luxury portfolios created to market the moderne style in France during the 1920s. In order to advance the new interior design aesthetic, French publishers produced limited-edition portfolios using a traditional technique—known in France as pochoir. The technique, which involved the hand application of color to a print using a series of carefully cut stencils (pochoirs), offered efficiency in production and high quality. The luminous, vibrant images that resulted from the pochoir technique were an ideal medium for promoting the new approaches to interior design and decoration, offering a warmth, depth, and richness of color that could not be captured by photography. These portfolios were highly effective messengers of the modern style, heralds of the new aesthetic for the French elite.

The exhibition brings to light the tensions between traditional and modern design that existed in France during the 1920s. The vibrant images in these portfolios document the furnishings and interiors of the leading French designers of the time, including Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, Robert Mallet-Stevens, Charlotte Perriand, and Eileen Gray. “The use of the pochoir technique itself as a means of promoting new design is characteristic of this tension, offering an alternative to drawing and photography to convey designers’ conception of the modern interior from the traditional to the avant-garde,” notes Wolfsonian curator Sarah Schleuning. The revitalization of the pochoir technique offered a novel graphic approach to depict and disseminate modern interiors and decorative patterns to the public, artfully promoting new design while avoiding commercialization. The spectacular color images from the portfolios present a great variety of solutions that will delight today’s audiences.

The exhibition contains approximately sixty prints primarily culled from four important luxury portfolios produced in the 1920s: Harmonies: intérieurs de Ruhlmann (1924), Intérieurs (1924), Intérieurs français (1925), and Répertoire du goût moderne [Compendium of Modern Taste] 1928-29. The pochoir technique will be explored through the seminal book of the period by Jean Saudé, the master of the pochoir, entitled Traité d’enluminure d’art au pochoir [Treatise on art illumination using stencil]. Fashioning the Modern French Interior will be accompanied by Schleuning’s beautifully illustrated publication Moderne: Fashioning the French Interior [Princeton Architectural Press], edited by Marianne Lamonaca, associate director for curatorial affairs and education, with an essay by Jeremy Aynsley, head of the School of Humanities & History of Design Department at the Royal College of Art. The publication is sponsored in part by Furthermore: a program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund.

Today's News

August 26, 2007

Fashioning the Modern French Interior: Pochoir Portfolios in the 1920s at The Wolfsonian

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