Furniture by Charlotte Perriand under the hammer at Artcurial

Defining designs of the 20th century are brought out of the shadows

Lacquered aluminium and wood Maison du Mexique bookshelf with sliding doors, estimate €80,000 to €120,000
Lacquered aluminium and wood Maison du Mexique bookshelf with sliding doors, estimate €80,000 to €120,000

October 24 is the late architect and designer Charlotte Perriand’s birthday, so it seemed a fitting date for Paris auction house Artcurial to host a sale of her work, entitled “Charlotte Forever”. It is a true celebration of this “master among men” says Emmanuel Bérard, director of Artcurial’s Design Department. Perriand worked with the likes of Jean Prouvé and Swiss architect Pierre Jeanneret, was a student of Le Corbusier – and counted Prouvé, Joan Miró and Alexander Calder as colleagues and close friends; her furniture “represents the evolution of design in the second half of the 20th century,” says Bérard.

Charlotte Perriand described her working life as a sincere and constant search for a modern living art
Charlotte Perriand described her working life as a sincere and constant search for a modern living art

The sale, which is having previews from October 20 to 23 and taking place during the prestigious FIAC (Foire Internationale d'Art Contemporain) at the Grand Palais, is curated with the collaboration of Perriand’s daughter, Pernette Perriand-Barsac (who worked closely with her mother for 25 years), and her husband Jacques Barsac. The proceeds of the sale of Ms Perriand’s studio swing lamp, Potence Pivotante (estimate €25,000 to €35,000) – of which six were made  – will be donated towards the upkeep of the Charlotte Perriand archives.  

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Other standout pieces include the 1943/1944 sculpted pinewood desk used by Jeanneret (estimate €300,000-€400,000), the 1952 bookshelves Maison du Mexique (estimate €80,000-€120,000) and the 1965 suspended bookcase Plots (estimate €40,000-€60,000).

Lacquered metal swivelling Potence Pivotante lamp with bakelite switch, estimate at €25,000 to €35,000
Lacquered metal swivelling Potence Pivotante lamp with bakelite switch, estimate at €25,000 to €35,000

Perriand’s signature Ombra chair (estimate €10,000 to €12,000) – accompanied at the auction with a rare catalogue, Choix, tradition, création au contact avec l'art japonais (Choice, Tradition, Creation with Japanese Art) edited by Charlotte Perriand and Junzô Sakakura in 1941, and a 32-page booklet and 53 printed boards (estimate €10,000 to €15,000) – was one of the pieces resulting from a voyage to Japan.

Lacquered metal, wood and wood veneer suspended Blocks bookcase, estimate at €40,000 to €60,000
Lacquered metal, wood and wood veneer suspended Blocks bookcase, estimate at €40,000 to €60,000

She described her working life as “a sincere and constant search for a modern living art”, and this quest is perfectly illustrated by the magnificent African walnut Free Form Table (1958) estimated at €60,000 to €80,000, and a quirky six-place table, estimated at €20,000 to €30,000.

Choix, tradition, création au contact avec l'art japonais catalogue, estimate at €10,000 to €15,000
Choix, tradition, création au contact avec l'art japonais catalogue, estimate at €10,000 to €15,000

“Charlotte Perriand was a free spirit who worked with the most talented designers of her time, perhaps a little too much in their shadows, and we want to show, with this exhibition, what an exceptional woman she was and that - almost 20 years after her death - her work remains contemporary,” concludes Bérard.

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