From 21 July to 25 October 2010 at the Hôtel de la Monnaie, 11 quai de Conti, Paris 6
After exhibiting Jean Prouvé’s « Grande Maison Tropicale de Brazzaville » in Paris (2006), New York (2007) and London (2008), in 2010 Eric Touchaleaume mounted another ‘rediscovering forgotten masterworks’ show to present the ‘Big blue nomad structure’.
The public came in droves to see this legendary demountable, not just for its historic interest but also for its value as a manifesto in technique and aesthetics that marks a peak in Prouve’s research in metal construction.
In 1957, with the help of the brilliant architect-engineer Serge Ketoff, the ‘metal bender’ from Nancy built three of these standardized modular structures. They were to house a temporary school at Villejuif and used an innovative structural principle: the asymmetrical post.
This was no less than a clean break with all the prefab architecture of the day: once again, Prouvé showed that he was a pioneer. But his masterwork roused little more than indifference, if not scorn. Fortunately, art critic Gérald Gassiot-Talabot, saved the day:
‘Soberness of means, modesty and efficiency of approach come together with the genius of design for simplicity in beauty. The triumph in aesthetics only appears as an extra.’
G. Gassiot-Talabot, Cimaise n°54, 1961.