Another great achievement for Magen H Gallery with a monographic exhibition ‘Pierre Chapo: A Modern Craftsman,’ opens tomorrow. I am grateful to be asked to write an introduction in the book published in conjunction with this important show, which comes to assemble new information and to reveal a French talent who has remained underappreciated in the United States. Chapo’s rich and accomplished career spanned three decades that began in the postwar years and extended to 1987, the year he died. Throughout this period, he created furniture which was rooted in the French vernacular and in his love for the crafts. The individualistic, functional, and somewhat architectural object, the touchstone of his oeuvre, was where Chapo best expressed himself. Whereas most French designers active during the postwar years perceived modern design as a tool for social progress and as a way to improve the lives of the millions, Chapo began his career as a furniture designer in the late 50s, when French design had made a departure from the industrial look and the socialist agenda of the immediate postwar years, with a quest for luxury, craftsmanship, and individuality. It was the perfect moment for his craft production. Chapo’s legacy, and his contribution to the story of French design shall not be measured without considering the role of Nicole Lormier, his wife and life partner. Their passion for travel throughout Europe, Central America, and the United States (1954-6) had planted the seeds for his design career. The two opened their successful gallery in 1957, a year after their more famous counterpart, Steph Simon, open his design shop. It is while operating the gallery, that Chapo began creating furniture. And I really love the photography of the pieces against the industrial fabric of Tribeca.
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