How many different ways can dealers present the prolific Art Déco period? Many. In Paris this month, Galerie Jacques de Vos has organized an exhibit of textile genius Hélène Henry’s work, while in New York, Maison Gerard unearths some early examples of furniture making during that period and presents a complementary selection of period and re-issued fabrics from the 200-year-old French fabrics weaver Prelle.
De Vos’s exhibit of the textiles of the French-born Henry, who produced inventive upholstery fabrics between 1920 and 1960, is the first to ever focus on her work; it runs through June 30.
Henry’s skill was in her translation of graphic patterns to intricately woven fabric. She was imaginative in her combination of materials—wool, bonded fiber, tweed, viscose and mohair—and she tended to work with powerful colors. Collectors such as the Maharajah of Indore was a client, as were the great designers of the time, Dominique, Jules Leleu, Jansen, Guévrékian and Paul Dupré-Lafon, who favored her Scottish pattern. Puiforcat and Lalique used her fabrics in their shops.
Gerard Widdershoven of Maison Gerard is exhibiting 45 pieces of furniture, lighting and glass from the early days of Art Déco, 1910 to 1925, when designers had begun to move away from the curvy, sinuous motifs of tendrils and flowers used in Art Nouveau furniture, objects and jewelry toward more unadorned and clean shapes. Named for the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, the Art Déco style went back to the roots of fine French furniture making. Expensive woods, inlays and other materials were used and images of fruit, flowers and garlands became stylized and simplified, an example being the inlaid motif on the face of a cabinet designed by Leleu.
The Maison Gerard exhibit focuses on some of the designers who spearheaded the Art Déco movement, such as Sue et Mare, Leleu, Maurice Dufrène, Paul Follot and the firm Dominique. Leleu’s freestanding mirror incorporates ivory and silvered-bronze inlay in amboyna wood, and a chest of drawers by Dufrène is made of carved palissander with macassar ebony and mother-of-pearl inlays.