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Eileen Gray architectural drawings, 1930-1947

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Finding aid for the Eileen Gray architectural drawings, 1930-1947

Scope and Content of Collection

Sixteen architectural drawings once owned by architect and designer Eileen Gray comprise the archive. Original drawings and reprographic prints for three of Gray's own architectural projects form the bulk of the archive, with the rest being prints of drawings for two projects by Gray's colleagues, Le Corbusier and Jean Badovici. Although few in number, the drawings in this collection document key aspects of Gray's architectural work, including her interest in minimal housing and in the role of architecture in public welfare, as well as interactions with colleagues.

The three Eileen Gray projects represented in the archive come from the mature period of her architectural activity. The studio apartment for Jean Badovici, the Romanian architect, editor of L'Architecture vivante, and briefly Gray's personal and professional partner, is the only one of these projects to have been realized and is often cited along with E.1027 and Tempe à Pailla as representing Gray's finest work. The two other projects documented here, the Maison ellipse (Ellipse House) and the Centre culturel et social (Cultural and Social Center), were hypothetical projects exploring social issues. The Badovici apartment and the Ellipse House, although very different expressions of domestic space, both relate to Gray's ongoing interest in minimal living environments. The Ellipse House and the Cultural and Social Center are products of Gray's growing concern from the mid 1930s onward with public welfare and conditions for the working class.

The prints of drawings for Le Corbusier's Pavillon des Temps Nouveaux at the Exposition Internationale in Paris in 1937 and one of Jean Badovici's post-World War II reconstruction projects included in the collection are also tied to Gray. A frequent visitor at E.1027, Le Corbusier admired her work. He invited Gray to exhibit designs for a Vacation and Leisure Center, her first large-scale public project, in his pavilion at the exposition. Badovici took part in various reconstruction projects after the war, including the rebuilding of Maubeuge, in which Gray also played a minor role. These drawings are for an unrealized infill project with 20 houses in three clusters in the town of Hellemmes near Lille in northern France.

The drawings in the archive are original unless otherwise indicated in the inventory. The dates given for Gray's work are project dates, whereas the dates for the Le Corbusier and Badovici projects are taken from the drawings.


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