Jean Puiforcat - Design and Design Art New York Thursday, May 24, 2007 | Phillips

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  • Literature

    Françoise de Bonneville, Jean Puiforcat, Paris, 1986, illustrated p. 60; Gail S. Davidson, “Perfection: Jean Puiforcat’s designs for silver,” The Magazine Antiques, New York, January 2003, illustrated p. 180

  • Catalogue Essay

    In 1929, one year after the present lot’s production, Jean E. Puiforcat, along with Robert Mallet-Stevens, Jean Fouquet and René Herbst, broke away from the outdated Société des Artistes Decoratifs to create the UAM (Union des Artistes Moderne). The UAM was devoted to the idea of the unity of the arts, which was common to the ideology of applied arts in the 19th century. They led the French Modernist and avant-garde movements until the beginning of World War II and continued working under different ideals until the group disbanded in 1958.

    As a founding member of the UAM, Puiforcat was dedicated to the modernist principle that form and function are directly related. Puiforcat abandoned traditional decorative silverwork in order to further the modernist aesthetic put forth by the UAM. His work is characterized by simple volumes and smooth surface profiles with elegant proportions based on geometry.

    The present lot reflects Puiforcat’s theoretical aim to put forth objects which are explicitly functional and consciously devoid of ornament. Its geometrical form and beautifully simple use of material represent the modernist look, as well as Puiforcat’s technical ability and design expertise. This example further illustrates Puiforcat’s attention to mathematical proportions, which appeal to both an aesthetic as well as intellectual point of view.

    During the years 1927-1929, Puiforcat was producing his most mathematically rigorous and minimal designs, applying the concepts of the golden section and root rectangles to his work. These concepts are evident in the present lot’s proportions and use of geometric forms. These mathematical applications were additionaly utilized by artists throughout Europe and the United States, especially among the intellectual and artistic elite circles that Puiforcat subscribed to. Artists, designers and architects such as Le Corbusier and Jean-Charles Moreaux, as well as a select few of his UAM colleagues, were using mathematical thinking in articulating design.

    This extremely rare and unique vase was produced at the height of Puiforcat’s most purist and minimalistic period. It effortlessly demonstrates his thought processes, as well as the social and intellectual push toward applying scientific and mathematical theories to art and design.


Extremely rare and unique vase

Solid silver. Underside impressed “Jean E. Puiforcat” and with French hallmark. Together with original Puiforcat cloth satchel.
5 in. (12.7 cm) high

$40,000 - 60,000 

Sold for $48,000

Design and Design Art

24 May 2007
2pm New York