PIERRE CHAREAU

(1883 – 1950)

Pierre Chareau hailed from a family of Le Havre shipowners in Bordeaux, France. He studied architecture at l’Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris and upon completion of his studies he worked for a Paris-based English firm, leaving in 1914 to join the World War I effort. In 1919 he exhibited for the first time, at the Salon d’Automne, where he presented an office and bedroom for Dr. Jean Dalsace. Ten years later, the same patron would commission Chareau’s most celebrated architectural project, the Maison de Verre (House of Glass).

Chareau exhibited at the annual salons and with the UAM (Union des Artistes Moderne), of which he was a cofounder. His aesthetic provided architectural solutions to furniture design. He received private as well as public commissions including the office/library in the Ambassade Francaise at the 1925 Paris Exposition. He participated in the design of the UAM pavilion at the 1937 Exposition Universelle in Paris as well as offices for a government minister.

Chareau tried to move to London when World War II broke out but eventually found his way to New York. He received an important commission there from the young American painter, Robert Motherwell, for a house in East Hampton. It combined surplus army sheet-iron with glazed glass panels from an abandoned greenhouse and stood for 40 years, a combination of architectural modernism and expediency.