Jean Royère - Design New York Tuesday, December 16, 2008 | Phillips

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  • Literature

    Catherine and Stephane de Beyrie and Jacques Ouaiss, Jean Royère, New York, 2000, illustrated p. 59

  • Catalogue Essay

    The ovum is the seat of human life and the largest cell in the body. Jean Royère flipped the egg and sat the body in it. He first exhibited his small ‘Oeuf’ chairs at the 1954 Salon des Arts Ménagers in Paris, although they had incubated since 1951. Two halves faced each other across his ‘Foyer d’aujourd’hui’. He placed a low ‘Puddle’ table between them like a spilt yolk. In Jean Royère (Galerie de Beyrie, 2000), Michael Boyd wrote: “There is a serious sculptural content imbued—but there is a playful, even humorous side, too.” Simply put, Royère cracked a good joke. ‘Polar Bears’, ‘Elephants’, ‘Bananas’—he enlivened his furniture with surrealist good humor. But Boyd is right, Royère modeled in the round. His ‘Sculpture Furniture’ (1955), overstuffed forms raised on turned oak legs, hatched from his ‘Oeufs’. Of all the Gallic roosters, Royère fluffed his feathers highest. His elaborate upholstery and exaggerated lines best reflected the buoyant mood of the postwar years. In the mid-1950s, attendance at the Salon des Arts Ménagers routinely surpassed a million. It’s hard to imagine Pierre Paulin, Verner Panton, and the rest of the flock weren’t aware of his cupped seats—especially Arne Jacobsen whose own ‘Egg’ chair (the present Lot 116) followed in 1958.

  • Artist Biography

    Jean Royère

    French • 1902 - 1981

    Jean Royère took on the mantle of the great artistes décorateurs of 1940s France and ran with it into the second half of the twentieth century. Often perceived as outside of the modernist trajectory ascribed to twentieth-century design, Royère was nonetheless informed by and enormously influential to his peers. Having opened a store in Paris in 1943 before the war had ended, he was one of the first to promote a new way of life through interior decoration, and his lively approach found an international audience early on in his career.

    In addition to commissions in Europe and South America, Royère had a strong business in the Middle East where he famously designed homes for the Shah of Iran, King Farouk of Egypt and King Hussein of Jordan. The surrealist humor and artist's thoughtful restraint that he brought to his furniture designs continue to draw admiration to this day.

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Pair of small “Œuf” chairs

Oak, fabric (2). 
Each: 24 1/2 in. (62.2 cm.) high

$50,000 - 70,000 

Sold for $124,900


17 Dec 2008 2pm
New York