Originally trained as an architect, Roberto Matta settled in France in 1933, where he worked with Le Corbusier. During a visit to Spain in 1934, he befriended the poet Federico Garcia Lorca, who was assassinated two years later by agents of the Fascist leader, Francisco Franco. In a tribute to his friend, Matta composed a screenplay called The Earth Is A Man, and the text’s apocalyptic imagery, rapidly shifting perspectives, and emotional language became the principal source of his artistic work over the next five years.
This large canvas is the culmination of Matta’s project. Exhibited shorty after its completion (in 1942) in New York City, where the artist had immigrated at the onset on World War II, the painting’s abstract and visionary qualities influenced a new generation of artists, who would later become known as the Abstract Expressionists.
In this design, partly inspired by an office swivel chair, Charlotte Perriand softened the rigidity of the tubular, chrome-plated frame with a stuff cushion resting on coil springs. Because the frame and the upholstery required considerable handwork, the chair was relatively expensive and manufactured in limited numbers. Perriand used such chairs in her own Paris apartment.
Installation View, Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
Inspired by bentwood rocking chairs by Michael Thonet, and recumbent doctor’s chairs, the angle of repose on this Chaise Lounge LC/4 (1928) is adjusted by sliding the chromed steel frame on its stationary base. The LC/4 was a collaborative design of Le Corbusier (Charles-Edouard Jeanneret), Pierre Jeanneret and Charlotte Perriand, spearheaded by Perriand, who had designed other furnishings in tubular steel before joining Le Corbusier’s studio. The model was prominently displayed in numerous exhibition settings designed by Perriand, including the 1929 Paris Salon d’Automne and the Internationale Raumausstellung in 1931 in Cologne.
For Untitled (Ghardaïa), artist Kadar Attia sculpted a scale model of the Algerian city of the title in couscous, a regional culinary staple. The fragile and ephemeral structure is accompanied by two prints portraying foundational Western modernist architects, Le Corbusier and Fernand Pouillon, and by a copy of a UNESCO certificate that officially designates the city of Ghardaïa as a World Heritage Site.
Attia’s work calls attention to the fact that both designers borrowed from and reworked the Mozabite architecture native to the city of Ghardaïa, and to the ancient Mzab region, without acknowledging their inspiration, itself derived from France’s 19th Century colonization of Algeria and subsequent exploitation of its resources.
Woman with a Cat (1921) belongs to group of monumental female figures that Fernand Léger (1881 – 1955) painted throughout the 1920s. Motionless and frontal, this nude might be made of stone or metal, evoking at once a classical sculpture and a futurist robot. While Léger’s subject is rooted in European, particular French, artistic traditions, his streamlined style reflects contemporary design aesthetics that the painter’s friend, the architect Le Corbusier, advocated and popularized.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.