John Chamberlain began to create distinctive metal sculptures from industrial detritus during the late 1950s. While freely experimenting with a range of inexpensive materials—from paper bags to Plexiglas, foam rubber, and aluminum foil—again and again he returned to metal car components such as bumpers and hoods, which he dubbed “art supplies.” The assemblages preserve traces of his manipulation of machine-made elements: crumpling, bending, twisting, painting and welding steel to form deliberate gestures, he then fused these individual sections into thrilling multi-colored aggregations that range from miniature to monumental. The contrasting parts of the majesticCLOUDEDLEOPAROEXPRESSO (2010) suggest clusters of layered, three-dimensional brushstrokes, while the intertwined parts ofENTIRELYFEARLESS (2009) appear as a chrome and satin red tangle.
Jean Prouvé is widely acknowledged as one of the twentieth century’s most influential industrial designers. A self-taught engineer and passionate teacher, metalworker, architect and designer, he brought a strong social conscience to his pragmatic structural approach. Prouvé created furniture for the home, office, and classroom—as well as prefabricated houses, building components and façades—for more than sixty years. Consistent with his belief that “in their construction there is no difference between furniture and buildings,” he applied the same principles used in the making of furniture to his architecture of the postwar reconstruction. Streamlining research, development, and production, he was instrumental in ushering in building processes based on mechanized industry rather than artisanal craft.
The Ferembal Demountable House (1948), designed as the offices of the eponymous tin goods manufacturer, is a quintessential example of Prouvé’s inventive approach in which steel portal frames form a structural core. Rescued from the demolition of the Ferembal site, the house is a striking and eloquent example of the technical and functional virtues of his prefabricated designs, as well as their adaptability. In 2010, at the initiative of Galerie Patrick Seguin, Jean Nouvel adapted and modularized this building, testifying to the enduring relevance of Prouvé’s design and practice.
The asymmetrical Villejuif Demountable House is a lightweight project whose sheet-steel props support a cantilevered wooden roof. It was Prouvé’s response to a 1956 commission for a schoolhouse that could be easily dismantled and relocated. The school was later disassembled and its components used in other buildings. Prouvé’s design and engineering of these versatile structures and their components is now considered to be a milestone in twentieth century architecture.
In combination with Chamberlain, the spare elegance of Prouvé’s architecture underscores the eruptions of form and color that Chamberlain’s sculptures achieved with like materials, a striking intersection of groundbreaking functionality and raw creative exuberance.
John Chamberlain was born in Rochester, Indiana in 1927, and died in New York in 2011. Public collections include Chinati Foundation, Marfa, Texas; Menil Collection, Houston; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; and Tate Modern, London. His first retrospective, at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1971), was followed by more than one hundred one-person exhibitions, including “John Chamberlain: Sculpture, An Extended Exhibition,” Dia Art Foundation (1982–85); “John Chamberlain: Sculpture, 1954–1985,” Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1986); “John Chamberlain,” Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden (1991); “John Chamberlain: Sculpture,” Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1996); “John Chamberlain: Foam sculptures (1966–1979); Photographs (1989–2004),” Chinati Foundation, Marfa (2005–06); and “John Chamberlain: American Tableau,” Menil Collection, Houston (2009). His most recent retrospective, “Choices,” was held at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York in 2012. Other recent exhibitions include “Chamberlain at the Fairchild,” Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Coral Gables, Florida (2012–13); an installation of four monumental sculptures at Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (2013); and “John Chamberlain: It Ain't Cheap,” Dan Flavin Art Institute, Dia Art Foundation, Bridgehampton, New York (2014).
Jean Prouvé was born in Nancy, France in 1901, where he died in 1984. His work is included in private and public collections worldwide, including Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris and Museum of Modern Art, New York. Major exhibitions include “Jean Prouvé: Constructeur, 1901–1984,” Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (1990–91); “Jean Prouvé: Three Nomadic Structures,” Pacific Design Center, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2005); “Jean Prouvé: A Tropical House,” Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2006); “Jean Prouvé: The Poetics of the Technical Object,” Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Germany (2006–07, traveled to Kamakura Museum of Modern Art; Deutsches Architekturmuseum, Frankfurt; Netherlands Architecture Institute, Maastricht; Hotel de Ville de Boulogne-Billancourt, Paris; Design Museum, London; and Museo dell'Ara Pacis, Rome, among other venues); “Ateliers Jean Prouvé,” Museum of Modern Art, New York (2008-09); a multi-exhibition, multi-venue tribute at Musée des beaux-arts, Nancy, France (2012); and “A Passion for Jean Prouvé: From Furniture to Architecture,” Pinacoteca Agnelli, Turin (2013).
Galerie Patrick Seguin specializes in twentieth century French design and architecture, in particular Jean Prouvé, Charlotte Perriand, Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret and Jean Royère. “Chamberlain | Prouvé is the eighth collaboration between Gagosian and Galerie Patrick Seguin. Previous collaborations include “Jean Prouvé and Charlotte Perriand” (Gagosian Beverly Hills, 2004); “Richard Prince” (Galerie Patrick Seguin, Paris, 2008); “Jean Prouvé” (Gagosian Paris, 2010); and “Calder | Prouvé” (Gagosian Le Bourget, Paris and Galerie Patrick Seguin, Paris, 2013).
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