THE LURÇAT HOUSE-STUDIO
The Lurçat house-studio
Fondation Jean et Simone Lurçat – Académie des beaux-arts
A masterpiece of the Paris Modernist movement, the house, which has been maintained in its original state with its décor and furniture, was listed as a historic monument in 2018.
The project to restore the house-studio will focus on highlighting André Lurçat’s innovative architecture and reinstating Jean Lurçat’s living and working spaces in this house where he lived from 1925 to the end of his life.
At the heart of the Fine Arts Paris & La Biennale, we invite the Jean and Simone Lurçat Foundation – Academy of Fine Arts to let the public discover the atmosphere of the Lurçat house-studio, through photographs of the spaces and a panel of works representative of Jean Lurçat’s creativity: tapestries, paintings, drawings…
Jean Lurçat (1892-1966)
Lurçat identified himself above all as a painter. He owed his initial training to Victor Prouvé. At the age of twenty he settled in Paris with his brother André, two years his junior.
He moved in Parisian artistic and intellectual circles, his apprenticeship with a fresco painter was halted by the First World War; Lurçat signed up in 1914. With the return of peace, the painter started a promising career and exhibited at the Salons and in galleries. Through his childhood friend the doctor Jean Dalsace and his wife Annie Bernheim, he met Pierre Chareau, and started a collaboration creating wallpaper, rug and tapestry designs for furniture made by his first wife Marthe Hennebert.
Lurçat in his studio, photographed by Thérèse Bonney, around 1926
He also worked occasionally on ballet sets and costumes. His interest in analysis led him to write a long article in the periodical Esprit, but he had the soul of a poet and expressed a part of his vision of the world in Mes domaines, a collection of poems about imaginary animals that came to life in his tapestries, the art form on which he concentrated during the final twenty-five years of his life and which led him to acquiring worldwide recognition, mainly with the Aubusson workshops. This multifaceted artist focused on the decorative arts was also very active in ceramics from the 1950s.
The Villa Seurat,
a Unique Architectural Ensemble
The Parc Montsouris quarter was developed later than the rest of the 14th arrondissement of Paris. It acquired its specific character thanks to the many artists who, since they could longer find accommodation in Montparnasse, found a haven of peace and greenery as well as land at reasonable prices there.
The Villa Seurat was largely designed by André Lurçat. Between 1924 and 1928, he received commissions from artists wanting to live in modern houses, often these came through the intermediary of his brother. This artist’s colony comprises, with the two villas built by Le Corbusier on the Rue du Docteur Blanche, and the Rue Mallet-Stevens in the 16th arrondissement, one of the three developments built in Paris between the wars.
Other architects contributed to the Villa Seurat’s fame. In 1926, Auguste Perret built a studio for the sculptor Chana Orloff, while Jean-Charles Moreux designed a house studio for the sculptor Robert Couturier a little later, in 1937.
The Villa Seurat very quickly attracted a community of artists; these included Dali, Foujita, Hasagawa, Gromaire, Derain, Soutine, Magnelli…as well as the writers Antonin Artaud, Samuel Becket, Henry Miller…
The Lurçat House-Studio
André Lurçat trained at the art schools of Nancy and then of Paris. Mobilised during the Great War, he returned to his studies and was awarded his architect’s degree in 1923. From then on, his interests were directed towards a form of architecture that had broken away from conventional architecture, considered unsuitable for the context and the social and technical evolutions he had seen.
The design of the house-studio at 4 Villa Seurat, for which the theme was functionalism, reveals the modernity of this young architect’s ideas, who recommended adopting a “new material”, reinforced concrete, and the use of colour on each floor of the residence. It illustrates the innovations in architecture and more generally in the arts to which the Lurçat brothers made an important contribution.
The house stands on one of the smallest sites of the housing development. On its rectangular plot, André Lurçat placed an L-shaped building on three levels. The monograph of his work published in 1929 indicates that the design of his brother’s house studio was induced by the site’s constraints;
“A house built on a very small plot of land in a street where construction is very dense, must derive all its interest from itself as it cannot rely on any view, or receive any qualities from the surrounding area. In this case it is a question of composing the plan so that the views, the perspectives and plays of light are all developed in the interior”.
Five years after the construction, Jean Lurçat asked his brother to create a second studio. The works increasing the height modified the building’s appearance. A terrace for relaxing was created.
After the restoration work supervised by the Académie des Beaux-Arts, the house will open to the public and to scholars.
Table with glasses, oil on canvas, 1923
@ Fondation Lurçat – ADAGP 2016
The exhibition around the Lurçat house-workshop
was conceived by Jean-Michel Wilmotte