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Irish Museum of Modern Art reopens with major retrospective of the work of Eileen Gray
Berenice Abbott, Portrait of Eileen Gray, Paris, 1926. © Berenice Abbott/Getty Images.

DUBLIN.- A major retrospective of the work of Eileen Gray, one of the most celebrated and influential designers and architects of the 20th-century, opens to the public on Saturday 12 October 2013 at the Irish Museum of Modern Art. The opening of Eileen Gray Architect Designer Painter coincides with the reopening of the main building at IMMA and the opening of three other exhibitions – In The Line of Beauty presenting the work of an exciting group of young Irish artists; The Myth of Progress an exhibition by Swedish-born artist Klara Lidén and One Foot in the Real World presenting iconic site-specific installations from IMMA’s Collection. A further exciting development is the launch of the IMMA Collection Online, a searchable database with details on all artworks in the permanent Collection, including 1,200 with images.

Eileen Gray Architect Designer Painter is a tribute to Gray’s outstanding career as a leading member of the modern design movement. Designed and produced by the Centre Pompidou, in collaboration with IMMA, the exhibition celebrates Gray’s Irish roots and presents a number of previously unseen works that offer new insights into Gray’s extraordinary career.

Commenting on this exciting period IMMA’s Director Sarah Glennie said “IMMA is delighted to be bringing this important exhibition of Eileen Gray’s work to Ireland in collaboration with the Centre Pompidou Paris. She is one of Ireland’s most important cultural figures and this exhibition will give audiences here the opportunity to see an unprecedented collection of her work together and discover the full range of her fascinating career. This major show is presented alongside a really strong programme of Irish and international contemporary art, and with a full range of talks and events taking place, we have plenty for people to discover and enjoy over the coming months. After a great year and a half of programmes at our temporary home in Earlsfort Terrace we are delighted to be reopening our main gallery building and we look forward to welcoming back our visitors, new and old, to our very unique and beautiful galleries and gardens at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham”.

Eileen Gray’s work has often been split into two parts by critics, with decorative arts on the one hand and architectural modernism on the other. This exhibition approaches Gray’s work as a whole, engaging, as she did, in drawing, painting, lacquering, interior decorating, architecture and photography. Renowned in France during the early decades of the 20th-century as a designer in lacquer furniture and interiors, Gray began to experiment with architecture in the late 1920s. The exhibition includes lacquer work, several of her carpet designs, samples from her Paris shop Jean Désert and key items of furniture from her work on the apartment of Madame Mathieu Levy and Gray’s own home, Tempe à Pailla. Significant focus is given to her landmark piece of modernist architecture the French villa E-1027, built in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin in 1926-1929, in close collaboration with Romanian architect Jean Badovici. The exhibition includes examples of furniture for E-1027, including the tubular steel designs with which Gray’s name has become synonymous.

Eileen Gray (1878-1976) was born near Enniscorthy, Co Wexford and spent most of her childhood between Ireland and London. In 1902 Gray moved to Paris. She died in France at the age of 98. This extensive exhibition presents a unique opportunity for Irish audiences to experience a large group of work by one of Ireland’s most important cultural figures.

In a new initiative IMMA has invited the Irish Architecture Foundation to take over a gallery space during the Eileen Gray exhibition, opening on the 3 November The Everyday Experience is an exhibition of architects, designers and artists who reflect on the impact and practice of architecture and its effect on everyday lives. On 2 November the IAF in collaboration with UCD, AAI and QUB presents Constructing the View a day of conversations between photographers, architects and theorists culminating in a talk by photographer Thomas Struth.

Eileen Gray has been designed and produced by the Centre Pompidou, Paris, in collaboration with IMMA. The exhibition is curated by Cloé Pitiot, Curator, Centre Pompidou, Paris.

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