Design | August 16, 2022 |

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Image courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo | © ADAGP, Paris & JASPAR, Tokyo, 2022 C3924

Jean Prouvé: Constructive Imagination
Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo
July 16 – October 16, 2022

Jean Prouvé: Constructive Imagination is a large-scale exhibition introducing the oeuvre of Jean Prouvé (1901-1984), whose influence remains significant in 20thcentury architecture and industrial design. Organized thematically, the exhibition will feature over a hundred pieces of emblematic furniture and architectural works along with archived materials. Born to painter and musician parents active in Nancy school, a group of the Art Nouveau movement that flourished in the late 19th century in France, Prouvé began his career as an artist–blacksmith.

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Image courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo | © ADAGP, Paris & JASPAR, Tokyo, 2022 C3924

In the 1930s, he expanded his field of production from furniture to architecture, turning to a more experimental, avant-garde approach by using new materials such as steel. During and after the Second World War, he produced a number of innovative pieces such as prefabricated housing for post-war reconstruction in France, while being active in the resistance movement and serving as the mayor of Nancy for a brief period during the war. The exhibition begins by unfolding the chapters of Jean Prouvé’s life, followed by the presentation of a wide selection of iconic pieces. They include the ”Centrale” table (1956), “Présidence” No.201 desk (ca. 1955), Lighting ramp (1954), Rolling step-ladder (1951), and a unique prototype of Lift-up table with drawer (1943), which was a milestone in Prouvé’s move towards industrial production, and panels with portholes.

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Image courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo | © ADAGP, Paris & JASPAR, Tokyo, 2022 C3924

In response to growing market demands for mass production, he designed furniture for public authorities and universities in the 1930s. Among all furniture, chairs remained particularly significant for Prouvé, for they require meeting imperatives of solidity and ergonomics, as well as preserving their aesthetic qualities. As he stated that “…a viable structure for a piece of furniture is as difficult and skillful to compose as a structure for a large construction,” chairs are a perfect example of Jean Prouvé’s constructive principles. The exhibition dedicates a large section to the presentation of his chairs that underwent evolutions over the years including “Cité” armchair (ca. 1932) and “Conférence” No. 355 chair (1954), among many other models. In the 1950s, Jean Prouvé sought markets overseas and created furniture and aluminum facades for French colonial territories in Africa.

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Image courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo | © ADAGP, Paris & JASPAR, Tokyo, 2022 C3924

The exhibition includes the series called “variant for Africa,” which includes “S.A.M.” No. 506 table, variant for Africa (1952), “Tropique” No. 351 armchair (1950), and Sun shutters made for Guinea and Cameroon. Furthermore, over thirteen architectural projects will be on display, highlighting Prouvé’s approach to architecture as a “constructor” as he called himself. F 8×8 BCC house (1942), and 6×6 Demountable house (1944) , “Métropole” house (1949)- Prouvé’s emblematic projects of dismountable architecture – will be one of the highlights of the exhibition.

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Image courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo | © ADAGP, Paris & JASPAR, Tokyo, 2022 C3924

The structure of “Métropole” house will erupt in the middle of the gallery and its facades will be displayed on the wall. The F 8×8 BCC house designed and built by Prouvé and Pierre Jeanneret during the Second World War will be re-assembled in the Atrium. The piece attests to the two men’s extraordinary faculty for adaptability and is a brilliant example of their unceasing quest for modernity. The 6×6 Demountable house, designed by Prouvé in 1944 as temporarily housing for the refugees in Eastern France, will be presented as parts laid out on the wall.

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Image courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo | © ADAGP, Paris & JASPAR, Tokyo, 2022 C3924

All of these occupy an important place in architectural history in France. The exhibition comes to an end with a screening room with Prouvé’s lecture hall benches, where visitors are invited to sit in order to view the archival footage that includes Prouvé’s interview. During the exhibition, a series of public events such as a symposium, gallery tours, a children’s workshop, and talk sessions will be organized.


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Image courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo | © ADAGP, Paris & JASPAR, Tokyo, 2022 C3924
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Image courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo | © ADAGP, Paris & JASPAR, Tokyo, 2022 C3924

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