Jean Prouvé Architect for Better Days


Jean Prouvé
Architect for Better Days
October 21, 2017–April 15, 2018

Preview: October 20, 5–8pm

LUMA Foundation
Parc des Ateliers
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As part of its guest program, the LUMA Foundation, together with Paris-based Galerie Patrick Seguin, is pleased to announce Jean Prouvé: Architect for Better Days, a major survey exhibition devoted to the innovative twentieth-century French designer of furniture and architecture. Comprising 12 prefabricated buildings created between 1939 and 1969, this exhibition features the largest number of Prouvé’s demountable construction systems ever assembled in a single location, and aims to revisit the functional side of his architecture, a focus that is as timely and relevant as ever in light of today’s housing and migratory crisis.

Following the installation of four houses at the Parc des Ateliers in Arles in May, the full exhibition opens October 21, 2017 and runs through spring 2018. That the structures are installed within and in close proximity to La Grande Halle—an exhibition venue wrought from a nineteenth-century foundry—is a fitting tribute to Prouvé’s training as an artisan metalworker.

Jean Prouvé (1901–84), regarded today as one of the most enduring and important figures of twentieth-century design, approached the construction of furniture in the same way he constructed a house. In order to describe this balance of material integrity, innovative and economical construction, and elemental design, Le Corbusier designated Prouvé a constructeur. At once an architect and an engineer, the term encompasses the singularity of Prouvé’s elegant approach as well as his vital social motivation, manufacturing “brilliant solutions” for the modern era’s most urgent needs. Though Prouvé is today synonymous with the bent sheet-steel frames of his now-iconic furniture, his seminal contributions to modern architecture and his socially engaged praxis as builder—united the realms of industry, architecture, engineering and design—deserve far more attention than they have historically been afforded.

Prouvé’s social consciousness in design was forged at a young age, inherently tied to his conception and production of craft. He privileged collaboration, the integrity of material processes, and the ethical applications of industrial technologies across the five decades of his career. Early on, Prouvé’s experimental use of materials (specifically steel and, later, aluminum) led to collaborations with Robert Mallet-Stevens, and, with Pierre Jeanneret, Le Corbusier, and Charlotte Perriand, he became a founding member of UAM (1929).

Acutely aware of the shifting social and political landscape of his time, Prouvé adapted his construction system to the exigencies of his historical moment. His metal building systems used economical but durable construction materials that could easily be assembled, dismantled, transported, and modified. In the 1930s, Prouvé began to create prototypes and secure patents for portable building systems, or “demountable” houses.

The iterations featured in Jean Prouvé: Architect for Better Days—including the small series of portable homes Prouvé produced in the late 1930s, prefabricated pressed steel and wood military barracks, temporary accommodations for refugees, and his final demountable prototype created for Ferembal, an industrial packing company near Nancy (1948)—each attest to the development and modification of the structures designed by Prouvé according to the demands of their time.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a survey publication produced by the LUMA Foundation in collaboration with Phaidon Press. The book features two newly commissioned essays by architect, critic, theorist and Dean Emeritus of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Prof. Mark Wigley, and Philippe Trétiack, a Paris-based architecture critic and author, and includes a wealth of historical and archival material on the twelve constructions exhibited at LUMA Arles, and Prouvé’s oeuvre in general.

About LUMA Foundation and LUMA Arles
In 2004, Maja Hoffmann created the LUMA Foundation in Switzerland to support the activities of artists, independent pioneers, and organizations working in the visual arts, photography, publishing, documentary filmmaking, and multimedia. Envisioned as a production tool for Hoffmann’s multi-faceted ventures, the LUMA Foundation produces, supports, and enables challenging art projects committed to an expansive understanding of environmental issues, human rights, education, and culture.

In 2013, Hoffmann launched LUMA Arles to plan, develop, and manage the Parc des Ateliers, an expansive former industrial site located in Arles, France. Situated adjacent to the city’s UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Parc des Ateliers serves as the major programmatic and cultural center for LUMA Foundation’s diverse activities.

LUMA Arles includes a resource center designed by architect Frank Gehry; various industrial buildings rehabilitated by Selldorf Architects; and a public park designed by landscape architect Bas Smets. In anticipation of its completion, the site’s main building designed by Gehry will open in 2019, Hoffmann works closely with the LUMA Arles Core Group (Tom Eccles, Liam Gillick, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Philippe Parreno, and Beatrix Ruf) on a program of exhibitions and multidisciplinary projects presented each year in the site’s newly rehabiliated venues of the Grande Halle, Les Forges, and the Mécanique Générale.

Press inquiries
Pierre Collet: T +33 680 84 87 71 /


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