at The Bard Graduate Center Gallery
The Bard Graduate Center prides itself on exploring uncharted fascets and ideas around the decorative arts, design, and material culture. Created in collaboration with Paris’ Centre Pompidou and curated by Cloé Pitot, their current exhibition dedicated to Eileen Gray does just that. Accompanied by a film inspired by an unreleased interview conducted with Gray from 1973, this show shines a light on an often overlooked figure in modern design and architecture. It is the first exhibit of its kind dedicated to Eileen Gray in the United States. Through it, The Bard does the long awaited work of exposing Gray as not only one of very few women working in design and architecture before WWII, but as a pioneering creator of the modernist movement.
The vail on this modern master is lifted by way of displaying over 200 of Gray's pieces, many of which have never before been exhibited. Pitot curates the exhibition in 5 sections that chronologically explore Gray’s life through key points in her career. First, Pitot dives into her early life; growing up moving between London and Ireland, Gray’s distinguished family exposed her to a network of powerful creatives of her time. The show notes her formal training as a painter and her early move to Paris where she took on lacquer. Then, viewers are taken through Gray’s collaboration with Jean Bodovici and a space dedicated to her Paris retail and gallery space, Galérie Jean Désert.
The Bard gallery space is filled with archived materials, Gray’s furniture, and lacquer works. The focus of this show, though, beyond Eileen Gray’s life and story, is the overlooked excellence of her work in architecture. After a section dedicated to the architect’s most famed work, E1027, the show finishes with a deep examination of the less celebrated masterpieces of Gray’s life and career. Here, through sketches and models of 12 notable projects, The Bard showcases Eileen Gray’s diverse and unique talents as an architect in hopes to create awareness around a perhaps formally neglected legacy.