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Misunderstandings in the Confrontation of Art Deco and Modernism
"The Decorative Art of Today Is Not Decorated." -Le Corbusier
A Presentation by Tim Benton
Art Deco and Modernism in architecture and design are often seen as antithetical and there is plenty of evidence of the anxiety of modernists to distinguish their practice from that of the artistes décorateurs; Le Corbusier wrote a whole book about this. Adolf Loos provided the key texts against ornament and decoration as something applied. But as he admits in Les Arts décoratifs d’aujourd’hui, Le Corbusier had been trained and had practiced as a decorator. How solid, then, is this barrier between Art Deco and modernism? This event explores how to define, respectively, Art Deco and Modernism and focuses on the close interface between the two, for example, in the furniture of Charlotte Perriand, Eileen Gray, Francis Jourdain, Pierre Chareau and Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann.
Tim Benton is Professor Emeritus of Art History at the Open University, UK, and has served asVisiting Professor at the Bard Graduate Center (2003) and the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University, New York (2007). He was the Clark Visiting Professor at Williams College in the Spring, 2009. He has also taught as visiting professor at the EPFL Lausanne and at the Architectural Association, London. He has lectured widely in the United States, Brazil, Italy, Spain and France. He is a noted scholar of the works of Le Corbusier. He was elected to the conseil d’aministration of the Fondation Le Corbusier in 2008. Among his recent books are The Rhetoric of Modernism Le Corbusier as lecturer (Birkhauser 2007), a new edition of his book The Villas of Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret (Birkhauser, Basel), LC Foto: Le Corbusier secret photographer (Lars Müller 2013), Le Corbusier peintre à Cap Martin (Editions du Patrimoine 2015), Mes années sauvages sur le bassin 1926-1936 (Imprimerie Ibep, 2015) and E-1027 La restauration de la villa en bord de mer de Eileen Gray et Jean Badovici (2016). He has also acted as scriptwriter and consultant for a film on Le Corbusier’s vacations (2016).
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