Andrée Putman and the creators of the Modern Movementfrom 22 March to 31 October 2023
The Fondation CAB and the villa Noailles are entering into a three-year partnership.
The two institutions, members of the Plein Sud network, team up to present every year a design exhibition in Saint-Paul de Vence. The artistic programme is developed by the villa Noailles, which has entrusted this year the historic and scientific curation to Eléa Legangneux.
The Fondation CAB in Brussels and in St-Paul-de-Vence, founded in 2012 and in 2021, respectively, by Belgian collector Hubert Bonnet, are two non-profit venues entirely dedicated to the promotion of international conceptual and minimal art. Through exhibitions and residencies, the Fondation CAB presents the works of historical, established, and emerging artists who are influenced by conceptual and minimal art. Solo or group exhibitions allow for dialogue between these generations. For this first design exhibit at the Fondation CAB, the choice fell on one of the most influential designers of the 20th century: Andrée Putman. This project allows the foundation to experiment the existing dialogues between various materials and times and to open the way for new perspectives between cultural institutions.
The villa Noailles is a contemporary arts centre of national interest located in Hyères (Var). Since 2003, it has organised exhibitions and design, fashion, photography, architecture, and interior design festivals. It also presents exhibitions on Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles’ patronage and the history of this modern castle they had commissioned from Robert Mallet-Stevens in 1923 that became the place of creation and residency of the 20th-century avant-gardes.
This year, the villa Noailles celebrates its Centenary through exhibitions, concerts and events from 30 March on. The whole programme on villanoailles.com
2023 will mark the centenary of the villa Noailles, a former holiday home commissioned by the Viscount and the Viscountess de Noailles from architect Robert Mallet-Stevens. For the first time, the Fondation CAB de Saint-Paul de Vence will host an exhibition from the villa Noailles’ off-site programme, dedicated to the rediscovery work led by Andrée Putman, who passed away ten years ago.May the fanciful Viscount and Viscountess de Noailles had not then measured the importance of their villa in the construction of a modern history, the Secretary of State for Culture Michel Guy, a close friend of Andrée Putman, registered the villa Noailles in the supplementary inventory of the 20th-century Historical Monuments by ministerial order in 1975.
This unprecedented exhibition will pay tribute to the woman nicknamed the Grande Dame of Design who brought to light a forgotten part of the history of the Modern Movement and its greatest architects, whose works she protected, promoted, and distributed. Pioneering artists supported and collected in their time by erudite patrons, including the Noailles, who stand among the few examples of aristocrats whose destiny was closely intertwined with the history of avant-gardes.
Beyond an art and stylistic movement, Andrée Putman rediscovered the foundations of the history of our era and our modernity, a time during which the architects and designers, half a century ahead of their time, were able to lay the foundations for a new lifestyle by capturing and materialising the social transformations.
Commissioned from architect Robert Mallet Stevens, the founder of the French Union of Modern Artists, the villa Noailles is the symbol of this, with its signs, codes, and contradictions. This holiday home reminiscent of a modern fortress, which the inhabitants of the city of Hyères nicknamed “the house of the cuckoos”, is this ship caught between two waters in Stéphane Mallarmé’s poem, the flagship that sailed between a world almost already sunken and the new world, to which we belong. An unusual and unclassifiable place serving a new art of living, a house unlike any other yet, equipped with all the amenities we know today, but which everyone considered groundbreaking at the time. It was in this immobile liner that Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles entertained friends, artists, and intellectuals from all walks and that a piece of the cultural history of the 1920s and 1930s was written.
Andrée Putman is a child of this crazy decade… She was born in 1925, the year of the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts. It was in the early 1960s, when she was in her thirties, that she discovered this still little-known production.Most of the furniture created in the 1920s had disappeared, many creations had remained in drawing or prototype form and very few models had been produced and marketed. The wife of art critic Jacques Putman, Andrée Putman began her career at Prisunic (the forerunner of Monoprix) where she invited renowned artists such as Pierre Alechinsky, Jean Messagier, Bram van Velde, Arman, Christo, Max Ernst, etc. to create original prints that she managed to market at low prices. Fostering “art for all” by encouraging collaborations between artists and industrialists, this is again what she initiated in 1973, by founding the company Créateurs & Industriels with her friend Didier Grumbach (the founder and president of the Association villa Noailles).
At this time, most of the designers from the first half of the 20th century had fallen into oblivion, Andrée Putman could not find any manufacturer but challenged herself to “fulfil the distribution dream” of the fathers of design such as Eileen Gray, Robert Mallet Stevens, Pierre Chareau, etc., and founded her own furniture firm, Écart International, in 1978.Far from giving their creations sanctuary, Andrée Putman, in her own words, “helped them to come alive again”. The pieces of furniture, reissued by Ecart International, that had been rejected half a century earlier for the simplicity of their lines (“less is more” as Mies van der Rohe said), enjoyed great success and were distributed to a wide audience. These timeless creations became best-sellers of the 1980s. Andrée Putman used them all over the world, for almost all the commissions she was entrusted with, from the Morgans Hotel in New York to the layouts designed for Karl Lagerfeld in Rome or in Paris.
Not only is Andrée Putman at the origin of the international recognition of these artists’ works, but she was also greatly involved in their protection and registration as heritage. “Écart” is an anagram of “Trace”, and it was off the beaten track, in the footsteps of this avant-garde production, that she rediscovered and distributed this fabulous heritage.
This Centenary year of the Villa Noailles will be an opportunity to discover previously unseen artworks and archives and to pay tribute, with a scenography conceived by her daughter Olivia, to Andrée Putman and to the creators of the Modern Movement, who were already laying the foundations of our lifestyle a century ago…
A century ago, Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles received as a wedding present an extensive land nestled on the heights of the city of Hyères. A hundred years ago, the Viscount Charles de Noailles commissioned young architect Robert Mallet-Stevens for the plans “for a small, interesting house to live in”. 2023 will mark the centenary of the villa Noailles, but also the 50 years of the sale of the property to the city of Hyères and the 20 years of the creation of the contemporary arts centre, since labelled of national interest. The huge collection of the Noailles both demonstrates their commitment to support all disciplines and reflects the eclecticism of the art scene of the first half of the 20th century. For 20 years, it is with this same passion that the arts centre has tried to continue the actions initiated by the Viscount and the Viscountess de Noailles.
A place of experimentation for established artists and of revelation for tomorrow’s talents, the history of the villa Noailles continues to be written a century later. A significant programme launched from 30 March 2023 on will pay tribute to the historical heritage of the villa Noailles and to its illustrious owners whose destiny was closely intertwined with the artistic history of the 20th century.
Exhibition designer - Olivia Putman is a landscaper and an interior designer.She is the daughter of Jacques and Andrée Putman. In 2007, following an independent career, she took over as art director for the Studio Putman, whose legacy she perpetuates and promotes.
Exhibition curator - Eléa Legangneux is a historian and researcher specialising in 20th-century French Decorative Arts. Since 2019, she has curated the villa Noailles’ Historical Design exhibitions.