Up until February 22nd, admirers of 1960s and ’70s French design may observe a richly laid out exhibition of upholstered furniture at Demisch Danant gallery in Greenwich Village, New York. Appropriately titled Color Diaries, the presentation provides an ample selection of works by such pioneers of French furniture design as Jean-Pierre Laporte, Pierre Paulin, Joseph-André Motte, Olivier Mourgue, and René-Jean Calliette.
Together, the saturated hues and curved, clean lines of their oeuvres harmonize with each other in the gallery’s ground floor space. Augmenting the interplay of color and form are textile works by American artist Sheila Hicks, which alternately punctuate and limn the abundant presentation.
Visitors are encouraged to interact with the miniature, painted-wood block sets that mirror the simplified forms and interchangeable hues of the furniture on display. While the influence of the Color Field Painters is evident in the designs’ emphasis on monochrome and texture, the exhibition highlights the effortlessly domesticated—yet no less vibrant—nature of such works as Motte’s Armchair, Model 770 (1958) or Mourgue’s Djinn Loungue Set (1964). Each embodies the holistic vision of an individual object yet integrates effortlessly with the comparable designs around them.
Jos Devriendt’s unique, seven-foot-high Big Lamp 5CR (2019) is afforded a semi-separate vignette where a surprisingly diffuse, tempered light emanates from its monumental form. This piece grounds the other exhibited works’ timeless elegance and places them in a contemporary moment. Likewise, Hicks’s wall-mounted linen and cotton tondos (2018–2019) provide moments of depth and contemplation alongside the vintage, single-color furniture designs on the floor. Nearby, her woven works, created in the 1980s, echo the gentle curves and parallel lines of the works they surround.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of the pieces on view as part of the Color Diaries exhibition is the intensely human scale and organic approach that transcends the gamut—a clear break from the sleek, hard lines, and neutral palettes of the dominant trends defining the mid 20th century. Walking into the gallery, the pieces’ tendency toward relaxed, lounging postures and melodic, unified variations on individual hues envelops the visitor in a space where interior reflection, precisely balanced dimensions, and daily life coincide.