Tissus inspirés. Pierre Frey

from 21 January to 12 June 2016

The first major tribute ever paid to this major figure in interior decoration, it takes us chronologically through eighty years of creation, highlighting the skills and knowledge defining the Pierre Frey spirit and vision. The presentation of fabrics and wallpapers is complemented by works from the museum’s permanent collections and creations by contemporary artists brought together specially for the occasion and showing the considerable impact that Pierre Frey has made on current artistic practices. Celebrating this unique company’s history and identity, this exhibition takes visitors behind the scenes of a furnishing fabrics and wallpaper publishing house to reveal its sources of inspiration and production methods.

This exhibition features the finest creations produced by Maison Pierre Frey since 1935. In the Study Gallery’s six rooms, it brings together some two hundred works from the creator’s collection illustrating the eclecticism and artistic collaborations that have characterized its history. Born in 1903, Pierre Frey started out in the furnishing fabrics world at the age of seventeen as a cutter for Maison Burger. He later became director of Maison Lauer, where he met the designer Jean Chatanay, with whom he created their own company. In 1937, he bought his partner’s shares in the firm and founded Maison Pierre Frey at 47 rue des Petits-Champs, where the company’s registered office still is today. The production values he established have remained unchanged thanks to his three grandchildren and his son, Patrick Frey, in charge of the company since 1975.

The first room shows the stages and techniques involved in creating and producing a textile and the fabric publisher’s profession. Every Pierre Frey creation is a close collaboration between designer, weaver and printer, all of whose commitment is vital in achieving the company’s high quality standards. From the sketch to the finished product, the wealth of patterns, colours and materials of the pieces on display explore the creator’s stylistic identity. In the next rooms emblematic Pierre Frey textiles and wallpapers are presented alongside works from the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. Their association emphasises the historical and artistic contexts in which they were created and evokes the tastes and tendencies of former times.

This historic approach to Pierre Frey’s work is revisited by a contemporary vision emphasising its modernity and topicality: four capsule collections by contemporary designers paying tribute to Pierre Frey. In the space covering the period from 1935 to 1959, Julien Colombier has created a printed fabric whose vivid colours react differently to ultraviolet light, creating a changing perception of the material in function of the lighting. In counterpoint to Pierre Frey creations from 1960-1979, Benjamin Graindorge’s wallpaper explores the problems of visual perception using the pixel as basic unit in spirit of the Op Art artists of the early 1970s. Marcel Wanders revisits Pierre Frey productions from 1980 to 1999 by reinterpreting the ever-present theme of the flower, and Nao Tamura, reflecting on Pierre Frey fabrics from 2000 to 2015, draws on her own universe to create a Jaquard Loom fabric, produced by the Pierre Frey factory in northern France, in which nature is omnipresent. The exhibition ends with a homage to Pierre Frey by seven artists of different nationalities working in different fields. They were asked to reflect on key Pierre Frey concepts: colour, ink, history, texture, pattern and the rustling of the fabric. Julien Salaud, Peter Gentenaar, Michelle Taylor-Dorset, Paule Riché, Kumi Yamashita, Memo Akten and Label Dalbin pay tribute to and metamorphose Maison Pierre Frey’s creative combination of tradition and modernity and project it into the future.

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