Serge Mouille - Design London Tuesday, April 27, 2010 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Laurence and Patrick Seguin, Paris, France

  • Literature

    Alan and Christine Counord, Serge Mouille, Luminaires, 1953-1962, Paris, 1983, n.p.; Anthony Delorenzo, ed., Jean Prouvé / Serge Mouille, New York, 1985, p. 150, 163, 166 and 169; Pierre Émile Pralus, Serge Mouille a French Classic, Saint Cyr au Mont d’Or, 2006, pp. 132, 222 and 224-225

  • Catalogue Essay

    A recurrent bout with tuberculosis forced Serge Mouille into alpine convalescence in 1959. The interruption lasted two years. When he returned to work, gone were the kinetic lamps of the previous decade: the shell shucks and batted eyes, the rotations of Saturn. As Mouille slowed so did his forms. “What humor in all his work, what gaity!” wrote Jean Prouvé, fellow metal master (Anthony DeLorenzo, Jean Prouvé, Serge Mouille, New York, 1985, p. 109). But the mood changed. Mouille’s insect articulations, alert on spindle legs, walked away. Youthful flirtations matured—no more swinging sconces. In their place reined ‘Les Colonnes,’ geometric floor lamps first exhibited in 1962 at the Salon des Arts Ménagers. The statuesque ‘Grand Totem,’ among Mouille’s last and largest lights, comprises a fluorescent tube caged in rings cut from surplus aluminium cylinders. The swinging arms of his earlier ‘Black Forms’ swept across space, as Mouille himself noted (Pierre Émile Pralus, Serge Mouille: A French Classic, Saint Cyr, 2006, p. 105). With ‘Les Colonnes,’ however, the orientation “shifted from the horizontal to the vertical. Concepts capsized!”—lamps did too; Mouille solved the problem by adding a walnut base to the design. ‘Colonne’ translates variously as column, spine, or tower. The name implies solid support (stolid too) and resolution in light of life’s frailties. Mouille overthrew the fitful arabesques of nature, his earlier flames and corollas, with the blunt certainty of architecture. ‘Grand Totem’ rises like a skyscraper—or a cenotaph. In 1964 Mouille stopped all production of his lamps.


‘Totem’ floor lamp

c. 1962
Painted aluminium, painted tubular metal, walnut. 
171.1 cm. (67 3/8 in.) high
Manufactured by SCM (societé de création de modéles)

£80,000 - 120,000 

Sold for £97,250


28 April 2010