The Bauhaus art school was founded in Weimar 100 years ago and Charlotte Perriand died in Paris 20 years ago. The Fondation Louis Vuitton is now shining the spotlight on her and her work.
Standing amid a snow-covered mountain panorama with her back facing the camera, Charlotte Perriand (1903–1999) stretches her arms up into the sky like an athlete celebrating victory. Her torso is naked and her hair is short and it looks like she wants to embrace her surroundings, to celebrate life. This image is most probably the most emblematic portrait of the designer and was taken in 1930 during her skiing holiday in the French Alps. It shows Perriand, the summiteer; Perriand, a modern and free woman. She was an independent and courageous character for her era, both sporty and inquisitive. She loved to travel alone to countries far away, from Asia to Africa and as far as Brazil, and she was probably the first woman to go skiing in Japan.
The famous “LC4” chaise longue, which people often refer to as the “Le Corbusier” lounger despite the fact that Perriand played an equally important role in its design, is just one of a multitude of classic pieces of modernist furniture created by Perriand in her work as an architect. Back in 2013, her minimalistic and pragmatic yet highly aesthetic style even inspired a fashion collection by Louis Vuitton. In December of the same year, Louis Vuitton realised a previously incomplete architectural project conceived by Perriand at the Art Basel Miami Beach: the “Beach House”, a prefabricated house that was affordable for the broad middle class and was designed by the left-wing activist in 1934, at the height of her political engagement. Charlotte’s daughter Pernette, who is now responsible for managing her famous mother’s legacy, supported the project by quite literally opening the doors to the bedrooms, archives and photo albums of the most important French female designer of the 20th century. She has done the same for this upcoming exhibition: the largest retrospective to ever be dedicated to her mother. All of the Fondation’s galleries will be filled with the work of Charlotte Perriand and provide an insight into her deep exploration of the modern trends of her era, with meticulously reconstructed rooms focusing on themes ranging from art and architecture through to design and politics and right through to fashion. These installations will enable visitors to not only make their way through what could indeed be called a synthesis of the arts but also take a journey back in time.