Jean Prouvé - Design New York Wednesday, July 29, 2020 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private collection, France
    Sign Gallery, Tokyo
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Literature

    Galeries Jousse Seguin and Galerie Enrico Navarra, Jean Prouvé, Paris, 1998, pp. 132-33, 190, 223
    Peter Sulzer, Jean Prouvé: Œuvre complète / Complete Works, Volume 1: 1917-1933, Basel, 2000, pp. 8, 204, 209-12, 215
    Jean Prouvé, 1901-1984: Constructeur, exh. cat., Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nancy, 2001, pp. 48-49
    Pinacoteca Giovanni, Marella Agnelli, and Galerie Patrick Seguin, A Passion for Jean Prouvé: From Furniture to Architecture: The Laurence and Patrick Seguin Collection, exh. cat., Paris, 2013, p. 124
    Galerie Patrick Seguin, Jean Prouvé, Volume 1 and 2, Paris, 2017, throughout

  • Catalogue Essay

    The 1930s were a pivotal moment for Jean Prouvé, a time in which he changed workshops from Rue de Custine to Rue des Jardiniers and set up the iconic Les Ateliers de Jean Prouvé with engineer and brother-in-law André Schott. The Cité armchair is a product of this period, designed for a competition to furnish student dorm rooms at the Cité Universitaire in Nancy, France, where Prouvé would later become mayor. It was the smallest series model to come out of Les Ateliers. Alongside its comfortability, which was its main marketing feature, it was also light and hygienic and was sold to sanatoriums as well as universities. The new trend for “easy” chairs to replace the older “reading” chairs saw a pressed-steel structure with open U-shaped legs linked by crosspieces. This was then attached to a tubing frame bearing generous dimensions of a stretched fabric seat. The armrests were made of broad leather pieces that were attached to the frame with metal tabs. Of this model, 60 variations were made, each with slight amendments to the armrests and spring-load adjustability of the chair. Its rational and sculptural aesthetic would pave the way for many of Jean Prouvé’s home furniture designs, and indeed, the designer himself kept one in his own living room.

    The ability to meld both design and functionality as seen in the Cité armchair is a characteristic instantly attributable to Jean Prouvé. His double identity as both engineer and designer provided him with a better understanding of the materials he worked with and meant “he was not frightened of new forms…he was able to design and build furniture, such as the early chairs and the armchair for the Cité Universitaire at Nancy, of a different quality from that being made by other avant-garde designers of the period” (Joseph Belmont in Peter Sulzer, Jean Prouvé: Œuvre complète / Complete Works, Volume 1: 1917-1933, Basel, 2000, p. 11).

  • Artist Biography

    Jean Prouvé

    French • 1901 - 1984

    Jean Prouvé believed in design as a vehicle for improvement. His manufactory Les Ateliers Jean Prouvé, located in Nancy, France, produced furniture for schools, factories and municipal projects, both within France and in locations as far flung as the Congo. Though he designed for the masses, pieces such as his "Potence" lamps and "Standard" chairs are among the most iconic fixtures in sophisticated, high-design interiors today. Collectors connect with his utilitarian, austere designs that strip materials down to the bare minimum without compromising on proportion or style.

    Prouvé grew up in Nancy, France, the son of Victor Prouvé, an artist and co-founder of the École de Nancy, and Marie Duhamel, a pianist. He apprenticed to master blacksmiths in Paris and opened a small wrought iron forge in Nancy. However it was sheet steel that ultimately captured Prouvé's imagination, and he ingeniously adapted it to furniture, lighting and even pre-fabricated houses, often collaborating with other design luminaries of the period, such as Robert Mallet-Stevens, Le Corbusier and Charlotte Perriand.

    View More Works

Property from a Private Collection, Japan


"Cité" armchair

circa 1932
Painted steel, leather, fabric.
31 3/8 x 26 7/8 x 37 1/2 in. (79.7 x 68.3 x 95.3 cm)
Manufactured by Les Ateliers Jean Prouvé, Nancy, France.

$100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for $112,500

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New York Auction 29 July 2020