René Prou, Between Art Déco and Modernism
For the first time, a book and an exhibition pay tribute to the work of René Prou (1887-1947), avant-garde decorator and central figure of the Art Deco movement.
La Maison Pierre Frey exhibits René Prou, a passion for decorative arts in heritage
Patrick Frey, CEO and artistic director of Pierre Frey, is the grandson of René Prou. Always admiring of his grandfather’s work, at home he lives among some of his creations and safeguards his collection of precious documents, gouaches and old photos.
On the occasion of the launch of the book René Prou. Between Art Deco and modernism, Patrick Frey pays tribute to this great interior designer with an exhibition in the flagship showroom of Pierre Frey in Paris.
A large box featuring the different facets of his creativity will be installed in the middle of the showroom. Inspired by the furnished and heated cabin designed by René Prou in 1942 for the Comtesse Greffulhe’s salon, it also evokes his work on the interior design of cruise ships, which consists in creating a box in the box and highlighting the closed space of the sleeping cars
Sixty-five objects from the personal collection of the family or loaned by galleries, museums or private collectors * will be on display. It will present the work of René Prou, voyage ambassador, through his creations for the Compagnie international des Wagons-lits and for the Compagnie générale transatlantique, his work on wood and metal, his style defined by the shape and the curve of metal bases… A certain vision of a simple luxury that made René Prou, alongside Ruhlmann, Leleu, Dunand, Subes or Brandt, a central figure in the Art Deco movement.
The unknown work of the decorator-designer told in a book
René Prou holds an important place in the history of interwar decoration, particularly as a travel artist and decorator. He participated in the decoration of fifteen cruise ships of the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique, the new French luxury ambassador, and then with a luxurious aesthetic, of the cabins of the Orient-Express for the Compagnie internationale des wagons-Lits.
René Prou favors the simplicity of lines, the harmony of colors and the proportion of volumes. The furniture he designs is comfortable, bold, friendly and elegant. He uses beautiful materials such as exotic woods, ivory and lacquer, which he decorates with stylized vegetal motifs. He is constantly searching for innovations that the industry has to offer, such as: aluminum and Duralumin, which he uses for their lightness and durability, or plastic coatings that tastefully decorate the floors of ocean liners with geometric and colorful shapes. He intervenes with passion on everything, meticulous with the smallest details.
Between 1928 and 1932 he directed Pomone, the art workshop of the Bon Marché in Paris, which offered contemporary and affordable decorative pieces made in a small series to a broader clientele. In his shop, opened in 1938 on the Faubourg Saint Honoré in Paris, he presented decorative objects, his furniture signed with curved and fine feet that became his trademark, as well as the fabrics of his eldest daughter, Geneviève.
Very pedagogue, he became the ambassador of decoration through his teaching of youth at the School of Applied Arts in Paris or through his innovative training of women in the decorative arts: Charlotte Perriand will be one of his students.
With his classical training, his vision of decoration and the logic of industrial design, he imposed his style, at the crossroads of Art Deco and modernist trends. He had this sublime sentence synthesizing his state of mind about the quarrel between the Society of Decorative Artists and the Union of Modern Artists: «In art, only plagiarism is blameworthy and generally ugly.» Filigree, appears the figure of a free man with a great open-mind, who has trusted his creative genius.
Anne Bony (text) is an art historian specializing in the decorative arts. She is the author of many books including an important collection devoted to decorative arts by decade, Design, a history from 1851 to the present day and Ingrid Donat.
Gavriella Abekassis (biography) has devoted her masters I and II in Art History, at the University Paris-Sorbonne, to the work and career of René Prou. Her main research interests are the interwar decorative arts and contemporary art.
René Prou. Between Art deco and modernism
Norma Editions – 25 x 30,5 cm – 256 pages
Publication April 19th 2018 – Selling price : 65 €
from May 24 mai to June 16 2018
Showroom Pierre Frey
27, rue du Mail 75002 Paris – mon to fri 9h30-18h / sat 11-18h
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