A Chareau celebration, by design

In a case of “we just had to make time for this,” WAG finally got down to the Jewish Museum in Manhattan to catch the must-see Pierre Chareau exhibition.

And, we share, the first U.S. exhibition devoted to the French designer and architect is something well worth exploring before it closes later this month.

The galleries are filled with rare furniture, lighting fixtures and interiors – with incredible multimedia and interactive elements – that vividly bring the Chareau (1883-1950) story, from France to New York, to life.

Works within the galleries trace Chareau’s career, emphasizing his craftsmanship, exploring his rise and then adapting to the changing economic climates and tastes of his times that allowed him to persevere.

It’s a walk through spaces filled with telephone tables, daybeds and vanities crafted out of rich woods, stately metals and sometimes, unexpected stones such as alabaster. Historic documents trace this storied career. Artworks he owned grace the walls here while historic photographs show how he integrated these same works into projects to stunning effect.

A highlight is the immersive experience of his standout work, Maison de Verre, the Parisian glass house designed with the Dutch architect Bernard Bijvoet and completed in 1932. But WAG was actually most captivated by the gallery in which you put on virtual-reality headsets to enter – yes, virtually, but most dramatically –room settings based on those designed by Chareau.

It’s something to experience in person, to be sure.

“Pierre Chareau: Modern Architecture and Design,” which continues through March 26, is organized by the Jewish Museum in collaboration with The Centre Pompidou. It is organized by guest curator Esther da Costa Meyer, professor of the history of modern architecture, Princeton University, assisted by Claudia Nahson, Morris & Eva Feld Curator, The Jewish Museum. Exhibition design is by Diller Scofidio + Renfro. In conjunction with the exhibition, the Jewish Museum and Yale University Press have published a 288-age catalog. The Jewish Museum is on Fifth Avenue, at 92nd Street in Manhattan.

For more, visit thejewishmuseum.org.

– Mary Shustack

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