Alvar and I

Musings about vintage design furniture

Posts Tagged ‘Chandigarh

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Catching up after a long break from blogging. T Magazine is featuring its best stories in design for 2013, bringing us back to Chandigarh and the furniture of Jeanneret with a review of Amie Siegel’s Provenance, which follows Jeanneret’s furniture from the dumps of Chandigarh to the auction rooms of the West. Siegel’s video sold for a very meta $52,500 at Christie’s October Post-War and Contemporary sale, probably to another magnate who will enjoy it in his yacht.

Corbu and Pierre on a designer Yacht

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Written by Alvar and I

December 29, 2013 at 6:37 pm

Chandigarh: The Auctioneer Replies

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Chandigarh’s treasures keep selling well. Several went several times above their estimate at the last Wright auction on 31 March (hammer price of $88,900 for the Pierre Jeanneret sofa below). Answering to the attempts by the government of India to have the items removed from the auction, and the controversy surrounding their sale, Wright has put a statement on their website.

The note is quite informative. According to Wright, and this is not really a surprise, the government of India just a few years back left the furniture decaying and sold it at local auctions. French dealers (we think Eric Touchaleaume is one of them) bought some of the furniture back and restored it. Wright also claim the moral high ground – a more dubious argument in our view – when arguing India did not take steps to recognize the furniture as art treasures, while collectors and auction houses actually support their preservation. The note does not say if there have been attempts by India to buy the furniture back at a fair price that would cover the costs incurred by those who salvaged the furniture.

The good faith of dealers does not seem in doubt, and the sellers may have the law on their side. You could argue the same of the Elgin marbles too, but is not the rightful place of the Jeanneret furniture in India rather than in the home of a billionaire?

Written by Alvar and I

April 2, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Le Corbusier’s Indian masterpiece Chandigarh is stripped for parts

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Chandigarh’s furniture again. A recent article in The Guardian reports the campaign led by Manmohan Nath Sharma, to preserve the capital of Punjab and Haryana and prevent the “removal” of artifacts, including furniture from the numerous public buildings. Sharma was the first assistant of Le Corbusier in Chandigarh and later took over as chief architect of the city. A petition to support this effort can be signed here.

It’s true that emulating the success of dealers with salvaged Prouvé furniture from Africa and elsewhere, many of Chandigarh’s furniture, most of it designed by Jeanneret, have surfaced on the market. The forthcoming Philips de Pury & Company sale being the latest example. Atelier also reminds us of this Wallpaper* piece from about 2 years ago.

Some will view this as the market enabling the salvage of beautiful pieces of furniture that would otherwise be lost forever, others will see it as plundering of universal patrimony by unscrupulous merchants. In the absence of facts, hard to tell which is right. The case of Chandigarh is however specific in that there is the need to preserve the whole integrity of the place, its architecture and artifacts (including furniture).

Since there is an effort to draw the attention of Indian and international authorities to the preservation of Chandigarh, we believe this should be supported. Philips de Pury and others can make their profits on what is already and legitimately on the market.

Written by Alvar and I

March 22, 2011 at 3:00 am