Charlotte Perriand and Japan
Museum of Modern Art Saint-Etienne Métropole
23 February - 26 May 2013
Rue Fernand Léger, 42270 Saint-Priest-en-Jarez
+33 4 77 79 52 52

This exhibition reflects the reciprocity of the exchanges that occurred between the first French female designer and the land of rising sun. It showcases how the ancestral Japanese traditions nurtured her, but also how her work influenced Japanese design, especially thanks to the two exhibitions she organized in Tokyo in 1941 and 1955. The show was created in close collaboration with the Perriand Archives, featuring furniture (original pieces and reproductions), objects, archive documents, photographs and period artworks.

Invited by the Japanese Ministry of Commerce in 1940 before the country moved into war, Charlotte Perriand discovered that in Japan “you don’t enunciate an idea, you outline it”. Following this principle, she explored the country, discovering artisan techniques and artefacts. She took photographs throughout her travels and collected Francis Haar’s or others made by documentary photographers, in order to nourish her reflection on precise points: treatment of space, light and shade…

Confronted to the westernization of the country, which was heavily imposed by the economic and political power, she managed to convey that wood, bamboo, weaving and lacquer should not be dismissed. She shared certain bounds with the movement Mingei (folk arts). Standing at the crossroad between different worlds like all European artists of her time, she took notice of children drawings and sailors graffiti. They were moved onto frames designed for decorative arts, such as this tapestry that was very recently uncovered in Japan and will be presented for the first time in France in Saint-Étienne.

In 1955, she organized a second exhibition in Tokyo, Proposition d’une synthèse des arts, in order to present her research on the art of living. It has been integrally recreated in Saint-Étienne.