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A new edition of Pierre Legrain's exceptional furniture at the Hatchikian gallery

hatchikian-gallery-objects-of-initiated-editions-pierre-legrain- © Artcurial

Brilliant, eclectic and savant creator, Pierre Legrain (1889–1929) was first noticed by his pencil stroke (sharpened at the Germain Pilon school from 1901 to 1907 where he met Robert Delaunay in particular), and by his sense of graphics, talents that earned him to work on drawings in collaboration with Paul Iribe, founder of the satirical newspaper Témoin. Pierre Legrain then deploys a know-how that opens him to bookbinding or framing, then to design, architecture and decoration with the design of art objects and furniture, in a period marked by the codes of art deco.

A meteoric career.

He was introduced to bookbinding on his own when Jacques Doucet, couturier and great art collector, took the young artist under his wing as an employee and  assigned him the task of binding his collection of books. Pierre Legrain then sets up his workshop in the patron's apartments. From 1917 to 1919, he imposed a singular and original style, using noble materials, developing lines and graphics that break with tradition. His talent is soon distinguished; his recognition in this area earned him to work for great collectors and to receive the Blumenthal Prize in 1925.

Pierre Legrain also illustrated himself by his way of renewing the framing of canvases, in a style inspired of his bookbinding approach. In 1924, Jacques Doucet, on the advice of André Breton, acquired Picasso's Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907) for the sum of 25 Francs and commissioned Pierre Legrain to supervise the work, which appears today in the collections of the MOMA in New York. Indeed, after the death of Jacques Doucet in 000, his widow gave the painting to Jacques Seligmann, shortly before the end of the Universal Exhibition of 1929 where it was presented, for 1937 Francs. Jacques Seligmann exported the painting to his Seligmann & Co gallery in New York and it was Alfred Barr, the first director of MOMA, who then acquired it in 150 for the benefit of the museum, for a sum of 000 francs. 

Jacques Doucet wishes to harmonize the decoration of his apartment with his art collections, and this is how the collaboration with Pierre Legrain was oriented towards the creation of exceptional furniture that mixes influences of cubism and a African art particularly prized by the couturier. Jacques Doucet's apartment is conceived as a real staging, a setting that is itself a work of art. In this period of the early 20s, Pierre Legrain met Jeanne Tachard, friend of Jacques Doucet, whose collection of African art inspired the creator. She will, following Jacques Doucet, ask Pierre Legrain for the total development of his villa in the manner, also, of a total work of art, spaces, furniture, objects, lighting and garden which will become emblematic.


Jacques Doucet's apartment in 1925, furnished by Pierre Legrain.

An influence of the primitive arts.

Other personalities will also entrust Pierre Legrain with the architecture and design of their interiors (Marie Bonaparte, Maurice Martin du Gard, Pierre Meyer, Marie Laure de Noailles…).

While Pierre Legrain was beginning to be prized on the American market, notably through the intermediary of the Franco-American art dealer Jacques Seligmann, he died of a heart attack at the age of 40, the same year that Jacques Doucet disappeared. A short career which nevertheless leaves a singular imprint.

The furniture created by Pierre Legrain combines exotic materials (palm or ebony wood) and more unexpected materials (leather, parchment, oilcloth, mother-of-pearl, metal, ice). A formal game with different materials already experienced in bindings. The lines are both simple and graphic, and yet harmonize with more surprising touches or even bold breaks. Functionalism is not the object of his conceptions, which are above all works of art.

An unprecedented reissue!

Almost a century later, Ara Ohanessian, founder of Objet d'Initiés, made a dream come true: to create a new edition of Pierre Legrain furniture. Ara Ohannessian discovered the work of Pierre Legrain in 1972 during the sale at Drouot of the Jacques Doucet collection. A wonder and the engine of a lifetime. The acquisition of two original works by the creator, an African bench and a curule, will be the starting point of a long adventure. Ara Ohannessian carries out extensive research to list all of Pierre Legrain's works dispersed in private collections and institutions around the world (you can admire the African chair in Paris at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs or objects such as a cigarette holder at the MET NewYork; several pieces were part of the Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé collection…). Ara Ohanessian studies the work of manufacturing original pieces with infinite precision in order to convince the beneficiaries, whom he meets in 2015, of the fidelity of his project to the spirit of Pierre Legrain. 13 pieces will thus be able to be the subject of a new edition in 8 copies and 3 artist's proofs: three curules, a bench, a dining room table, an African bench, a coffee table, a fireplace screen, a meridian, a cubist armchair, a pedestal table, a night stand and an African chair. For a production that fully honors the talent of the creator by faithfully reproducing his works, Ara Ohanessian called on craftsmen of excellence and passionate craftsmen, specialized in trades with meticulous know-how, working with noble materials. . 

This reissue of exceptional Pierre Legrain furniture by Objets d'Initiés is available exclusively at the Hatchikian gallery. Discover the universe of Pierre Legrain creations and the new edition on the website and by appointment for more information. 

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