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This article was prepared for the April 7, 2004
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Artful Yet Practical Design, Circa 1940
`Perriand thought good furniture design should be accessible to the average consumer, not just the wealthy elite," says Jennifer King, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University, speaking of French designer Charlotte Perriand, the subject of a show at the Princeton University Art Museum. King is guest curator of the exhibition, which is on view to July 11.
Perriand is frequently named as one of the most important but overlooked modernist designers of the 20th century, but her "later work is often overshadowed by her contributions to Le Corbusier’s atelier, where she collaborated on some of the most iconic chairs of the 20th century," says King. The exhibition coincides with a recent upsurge in attention to Perriand’s career, thanks to the long overdue publication of the first book-length monograph on Perriand in English, "Charlotte Perriand: An Art of Living."
The show features six pieces of furniture that Perriand designed from the 1940s to the 1960s, "an extremely fruitful period during which she experimented with different materials and forms, and became concerned with issues of affordability," says King. On display are the colorful shelving unit designed with the Ateliers Jean Prouve for the dormitory of the Maison du Mexique of the Cite Universitaire, Paris, in 1952; a freeform desk from 1960; and a folding chaise-longue Perriand designed during a trip to Japan in 1941, as well as a rare library table designed in collaboration with Prouve and lighting designer Andrew Salomon for the Maison de l’Etudiant in Paris.
Although Perriand has been the subject of major exhibitions in both France and England, she has received virtually no exposure in American museums, and remains underrepresented in American museum collections. The Princeton exhibition will be only the second in the United States to focus on her work, and the first to concentrate exclusively on Perriand’s mid-century designs created during the two decades following her employment in the studio of the architect Le Corbusier.
Useful Forms: Furniture by Charlotte Perriand, Princeton University Art Museum, 609-258-3788, www.princetonartmuseum.org. Open to the public without charge Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 pm. and on Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m. Through July 11. Special events include:
"Charlotte Perriand’s Art de Vivre," Thursday, April 8, 4:30 p.m. Lecture by Mary McLeod, professor of architecture, Columbia University.
"Design and Desire: Recent Trends in Modern Design and Collecting Practices," Friday, April 9, 4:30 p.m. A panel with Cristina Grajales, decorative arts adviser and furniture dealer; Philip Nobel, design critic; James Zemaitis, director of 20th century design, Sotheby’s New York; and moderator Esther da Costa Meyer, professor of art and archaeology, Princeton University.
"Charlotte Perriand and French Design in the 1940s and 1950s," Friday, April 16, 12:30 p.m., and Sunday, April 18, 3 p.m. Gallery talks by Jennifer King, guest curator of the exhibit.
Pennington Players seeks actors for "South Pacific," to be performed in August at Washington Crossing Park in Titusville. Auditions are Saturday, April 17, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday, April 18, noon to 4 p.m. at Kelsey Theater in West Windsor. Call 609-737-7529 to schedule an appointment.
Playful Theater Productions seeks adult actors for leads and chorus members for "The Secret Garden" to be performed in July at Washington Crossing Park’s Open Air Theater. Auditions are Saturday, April 17 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Kelsey Theater. Call 609-689-9445 for appointment.
Plays in the Park seeks actors for "The Fantasticks," "Footloose," and "Kiss Me, Kate," to be performed at Roosevelt Park in Edison this summer. Open calls for adults are Friday, April 23, 7 p.m.;, Saturday and Sunday, April 24 and 25, at noon. Auditions are at the Stephen J. Capestro Theater, Roosevelt Park, Edison. For information call 732-548-2884 or visit www.playsinthepark.com.
The Garden Club of America Flower Show for Zone IV (New Jersey) invites the public to enter its juried photography competition. "Nature Restores the Soul" is the theme of the photography show to be held at the Nassau Club, 6 Mercer Street, in Princeton, on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 4 and 5. Amateur photographers may submit one photograph in each section of three classes: "In the Woods," "At the Beach," and "In the Garden." Deadline for entries is Monday, April 12. Professional photographers are excluded. For complete description and rules go to: www.princetonol.com/groups/zonemeeting. The juried show will be open to the public, free of charge, on Tuesday, May 4, from noon to 4 p.m., and Wednesday, May 5, from 9 a.m. to noon. Winning entries will remain on display at the Nassau Club through the month of May.
Chicken Soup Books seeks stories about dogs or cats that will uplift, inspire, or entertain other dog and cat lovers. Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul and Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover’s Soul are scheduled for release in 2005. Www.yourpetstory.com.
Canine Companions for Independence seeks people interested in becoming puppy raisers. Dogs are placed as assistance dogs with adults and children with disabilities. For information call 800-572-BARK or visit www.cci.org.
Urban Women’s Center offers free computer classes, career counseling, employment placement support, and interviewing techniques for women. They also maintain a career closet for women needing help in developing a professional wardrobe. Call Barbara Ryan at 609-392-5959.
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