M77 is proud to present Charlotte Perriand. The Avant-Garde is Female: an exhibition curated by Enrica Viganò, staged in collaboration with the Archives Charlotte Perriand and Admira e Cassina, due to open to the public on Monday 27 June at 7 pm through until Sunday 25 September 2022.
The exhibition project sets out to shed light on the rich and versatile production of Charlotte Perriand, the famous French designer and photographer, collaborator and friend of Le Courbusier and other great names of her time, placing her photographic production of the 1930s in dialogue with a selection of the iconic furniture items produced exclusively by Cassina.
Charlotte Perriand was a complex and eclectic figure, a woman whose path crossed the entire 20th century with great impetus and curiosity, fully experiencing the onset of industrial culture and thus of modernity. A child of the avant-garde of her time, she stood out by virtue of her sharp intelligence, her non-conformism and the originality of her thinking.
A pioneer of modernism, she experimented with a great plurality of languages (architecture, design, urban planning, photography, politics and civil rights), going beyond conventions and opening up her mind to new ways of approaching life, form and space. A tireless traveller, she worked extensively in the Far East, turning her encounter with another culture into an opportunity to enhance her own creativity, to learn new ways of imagining, designing and – somewhat ahead of her time – paving the way to multiculturalism.
The exhibition held in the spaces of the M77 Gallery is split up by thematic area, aiming to offer precise acknowledgement of the main aspects characterising Charlotte Perriand’s work and sensibility.
The first part of the exhibition features a selection of photographs focusing on the mountains – an environment dear to the artist and a great source of inspiration – including a life-size portrait of Perriand herself in her ski gear. This is followed by two portraits of her most famous friends, Le Corbusier and Fernand Léger, on either side of the imposing Parthenon, shot during her trip to Athens for an architecture convention in 1933. The exhibition continues with the series she called Art Brut (unrelated to the so-called outsider art current), in which a number of natural objet-trouvés, often stumbled upon on the beaches of Normandy, are photographed with a still-life approach, emerging from beneath the artist’s gaze as genuine works of art. The overview on the ground floor level comes to an end with two large photographs of a block of ice that Perriand transforms into a symbol and metaphor, raising it in her hands; in the middle is the iconic portrait of a shirtless Perriand in a victorious pose on a peak in the Savoie mountains.
The first floor brings the itinerary to a close with a selection of seascapes (boats, nets and beach scenes) and cityscapes (the metro, various glimpses of everyday life) captured in Croatia, England, Paris and Japan. Shots everywhere, jotted down as visual notes with which to feed her all-round creativity. Indeed, the shapes of objects and structures would serve as a source of inspiration for the forms of her furniture and architecture alike.