Diller Scofidio + Renfro Designs First U.S. Exhibition Devoted to French Designer and Architect Pierre Chareau

Rendering highlighting exhibited sofa and chairs, designed by Pierre Chareau, in the virtual reality context of the grand salon of the Maison de Verre.

Credit: Image courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Release Date: October 31, 2016

Diller Scofidio + Renfro Designs First U.S. Exhibition Devoted to French Designer and Architect Pierre Chareau

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New York, NY – The interdisciplinary studio of Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) is the exhibition designer for the first U.S. exhibition focused on French designer and architect Pierre Chareau (1883-1950). Pierre Chareau: Modern Architecture and Design will be presented by the Jewish Museum from November 4, 2016 through March 26, 2017.  Through various forms of technology – video projections, virtual reality, digital installations, and film – used within the exhibition galleries, DS+R has created atmospheric scenes that convey imagined functional and social contexts for Chareau’s work.

Showcasing rare furniture, lighting fixtures, and interiors, as well as designs for the extraordinary Maison de Verre, the glass house completed in Paris in 1932, the exhibition is bringing together over 180 rarely-seen works from major public and private collections in Europe and the United States. It will also address Chareau’s life and work in the New York area, after he left Paris during the German occupation of the city, including the house he designed for Robert Motherwell in 1947 in East Hampton, Long Island. Drawings, ephemeral material, and archival photographs will provide contextual background to Chareau’s activities in France and the United States.

Pierre Chareau: Modern Architecture and Design is organized into four main sections. The first section, which is devoted to Chareau’s furniture designs, showcases six groupings of furniture created by the architect for a variety of living spaces; video projections create the illusion of their social uses. The second section, which looks at Pierre and Dollie Chareau as art collectors, features works of art once owned by them or used in interiors designed by him. In the third section, virtual reality is used to imagine four spaces designed by Chareau. The fourth and last section is devoted to his architectural masterpiece, the Maison de Verre in Paris, which is partially recreated in a digital installation. Through these interpretive concepts and tools, exhibition visitors will experience two fused dimensions – the actual objects in the museum space, and the digital and projected overlays in virtual reality.

“Design exhibitions are central to the Jewish Museum’s program,” said Claudia Gould, Helen Goldsmith Menschel Director. “This exhibition brings together the work of two great innovators: Pierre Chareau and Diller Scofidio + Renfro. By collaborating with Diller Scofidio + Renfro, whose ability to integrate technology with art and design is unparalleled, the Jewish Museum is creating an especially rich and dynamic experience for our visitors.”

Commenting on Chareau’s work and the exhibition design, DS+R’s founding partner, Elizabeth Diller, noted, “Pierre Chareau: Modern Architecture and Design is an opportunity to return to a significant figure in every architect’s education, but one primarily known through only one masterwork, the Maison de Verre. This exhibition is a rare opportunity to see so much of Chareau’s creative output brought together in one place. The challenge in undertaking its design was to provide a multi-faceted and imaginative backdrop that would highlight, but not compete with, his exceptional mastery of detailing and assemblage. By engaging with Chareau’s furniture, interiors, and collected ephemera, we are able to absorb and represent his idiosyncratic voice, which has had relatively little exposure in the U.S.”

When designing the Pierre Chareau exhibition, Diller Scofidio + Renfro deployed various forms of technology, new media, and virtual reality. In the first section, which examines the use and aesthetics of Chareau’s furniture, DS+R uses projection and strategically situated screens to create the illusion that, in addition to the museum-going public, a ghostly population is also present.

In the third section, where entire interior environments are imagined digitally, the visitor’s initial impression is of the furniture situated in a black void. Once viewed through the virtual reality headsets, the four environments are revealed: (1) the study in the Chareau residence, Paris; (2) the Farhi Apartment, Paris; (3) the Grand Salon of the Maison de Verre, Paris; and (4) the garden of the Maison de Verre.

In the final gallery, DS+R created a dynamic yet impossible perspective of Chareau’s Maison de Verre, a modern townhouse in a dense urban setting for which no actual entire view exists. Here, a large-scale digital installation allows visitors to experience different sections of the Glass House as if moving through it. This installation is overlaid with films that show the Maison de Verre “in operation,” functionally and socially. It provides a new, working encounter with the architectural icon, and reveals the story of how the house accommodates its inhabitants through an extraordinary interplay of mechanical and circulation systems, and against the backdrop of its dramatic glass block and steel structure.

Pierre Chareau: Modern Architecture and Design is presented by the Jewish Museum in collaboration with The Centre Pompidou. The exhibition is organized by Guest Curator Esther da Costa Meyer, Professor of the history of modern architecture, Princeton University, assisted by Claudia Nahson, Morris & Eva Feld Curator, The Jewish Museum. Exhibition design by Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

Press Preview
Please join Claudia Gould, Helen Goldsmith Menschel Director, The Jewish Museum, on Tuesday, November 1, 2016, 10am to 1pm, for breakfast and a special media preview of Pierre Chareau: Modern Architecture and Design. Remarks at 10:30am with Esther da Costa Meyer, Guest Curator; and Liz Diller , Founder, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, designer of the Pierre Chareau exhibition.  RSVP to pressoffice@thejm.org.

Pierre Chareau: Modern Architecture and Design is made possible by The Jerome L. Greene Foundation.

Generous support is also provided by The Peter Jay Sharp Exhibition Fund, The Grand Marnier Foundation, Tracey and Robert Pruzan, Susan and Benjamin Winter, Design Within Reach, Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis, Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Selz Foundation, and UOVO.

Additional funds are provided through the Leon Levy Foundation.

The interactive visitor experience made possible by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

The Jewish Museum gives special thanks to the Cultural Services of the French Embassy.

About Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Diller Scofidio + Renfro integrates architecture, the visual arts, and the performing arts.  Founding Partners Diller and Scofidio are recipients of the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” award. DS+R’s architectural work includes The High Line, The Roy and Diana Vagelos Education Center at Columbia University, and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts renovation and expansion in New York City; The Broad in Los Angeles; and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. The studio’s independent works have been exhibited at leading cultural institutions around the globe, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Venice Biennale; the Swiss National Exposition; Palais De Tokyo in Paris; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum in New York.

About the Jewish Museum

Located on Museum Mile at Fifth Avenue and 92nd Street, the Jewish Museum is one of the world's preeminent institutions devoted to exploring art and Jewish culture from ancient to contemporary, offering intellectually engaging, educational, and provocative exhibitions and programs for people of all ages and backgrounds. The Museum was established in 1904, when Judge Mayer Sulzberger donated 26 ceremonial objects to The Jewish Theological Seminary as the core of a museum collection. Today, the Museum maintains a collection of over 30,000 works of art, artifacts, and broadcast media reflecting global Jewish identity, and presents a diverse schedule of internationally acclaimed temporary exhibitions.

The Jewish Museum is located at 1109 Fifth Avenue at 92nd Street, New York City. Museum hours are Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, 11am to 5:45pm; Thursday, 11am to 8pm; and Friday, 11am to 4pm. Museum admission is $15.00 for adults, $12.00 for senior citizens, $7.50 for students, free for visitors 18 and under and Jewish Museum members. Admission is Pay What You Wish on Thursdays from 5pm to 8pm and free on Saturdays. For information on the Jewish Museum, the public may call 212.423.3200 or visit the website at TheJewishMuseum.org.

Press contacts

For The Jewish Museum
Anne Scher
212.423.3271 or ascher@thejm.org
General inquiries: pressoffice@thejm.org

Andrea Schwan
Andrea Schwan Inc.
917.371.5023 or andrea@andreaschwan.com

For Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Harley Swedler, AIA
646.442.8671 or hswedler@dsrny.com