Born in Ireland in 1878 to a wealthy and progressive family, Gray was one of the first women to attend the Slade School of Fine Art where she studied painting. After graduation she took up lacquer art, bringing her modern aesthetic to the ancient form. She began outfitting some of the most fashionable apartments in Paris with designs such as her famous Brick Screen.
By the late 1920s, her attentions shifted to the world of architecture. Gray designed numerous dwellings but her most famous was E-1027 which she designed for her partner, the architecture critic Jean Badovici. Overlooking the Mediterranean, the stark, Modernist construction garnered controversy with the unwanted addition of interior wall murals by Gray’s contemporary Le Corbusier. Ironically, Le Corbusier’s involvement in the house saved it from destruction but the outrage of misappropriation for the design was too much for Gray who retreated from public life.
Victoria and Albert Museum curator Christopher Wilk said, "The story of Eileen Gray is really the story of retrieval. You look at her work, and you think, how could a woman of this talent ever have been forgotten? How come decades went by when essentially nobody knew about her?"
In 1968, her astounding body of work was unearthed in Domus magazine by critic Joseph Rykwert and institutions such as the Centre Pompidou, V&A Museum and MoMA began collecting her work for their permanent collections. With Gray Matters, contemporary audiences can finally put the correct name to some of the most iconic works of the Deco and Modernist era.
Co-presented by ACMI & MPavilion
9 Oct - 27 Oct
Free spirited, fiercely independent and strides ahead of her time, Eileen Gray was a pioneer of Art Deco and Modernist design with an artistic output spanning furniture, architecture and textiles. Her original and daring designs were game changers and now reside in some of the world’s most prestigious private and public art collections.