Come on Eileen

Eileen Gray: Architect Designer Painter, is a celebration of one of Ireland’s greatest Modernist practitioners.

Eileen Gray taken in Paris circa 1902 when she was a student. Copyright National Museum of Ireland.
Eileen Gray taken in Paris circa 1902 when she was a student. Copyright National Museum of Ireland.

Hosted by the Irish Museum of Modern Art, with the help of the Pompidou Centre in Paris, the exhibition is a glimpse at how Gray moved between the worlds of architecture, design and art, and became known  for bringing a humanist perspective to Modernism.

This perspective is typified by the austere form of her Adjustable Glass Table, which is actually a design that she came up with to stop her sister spilling crumbs over her bed.

The exhibition brings together the decorative arts and architectural modernism of Gray’s career, which are often considered as separate.

She was known at the beginning of the 20th century as a designer in lacquer furniture and interiors, but gravitated toward architecture in the late 1920s.

The exhibition includes lacquer work, carpet designs, samples from her Paris shop Jean Désert and key furniture from the apartment of Madame Mathieu Levy and Gray’s own home, Tempe à Pailla.

Eileen Gray, View of the garden façade of E1027, 1926-29. This was Gray’s first completed domestic architectural project. Copyright National Museum of Ireland.
Eileen Gray, View of the garden façade of E1027, 1926-29. This was Gray’s first completed domestic architectural project. Copyright National Museum of Ireland.

There’s a focus on her landmark piece of Modernist architecture – the French villa E-1027, built in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin between 1926-1929, in close collaboration with Romanian architect Jean Badovici.

In an inexplicable aside you might like to know that Alanis Morrisette will play Gray’s lover Marisa Damia in a new film The Price of Desire, which is billed as the ‘story of how Le Corbusier effaced and defaced Eileen Gray’s moral right to be recognised as the author of her work’. Irish actress Orla Brady plays Eileen Gray. 

The film looks at the going on at E.1027, which was subsequently daubed with sexually graphic murals by the architect Le Corbusier, some say in a bid to repress Gray’s achievements.

Talks and events will be happening around the exhibition, details of which can be found on the IMMA website

Eileen Gray, Bibendum armchair, circa 1930, Chrome-plated metal, cancas, Photography:Christian Baraja, studio SLB and Provenance: Private collection, Paris
Eileen Gray, Bibendum armchair, circa 1930, Chrome-plated metal, cancas, Photography:Christian Baraja, studio SLB and Provenance: Private collection, Paris

Eileen Gray: Architect Designer Painter runs until 19 January at The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Royal Hospital, Military Road, Kilmainham, Dublin 8, Ireland

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