Francis Jourdain


Adolf Loos had announced that ornament can only appeal to the primitive side of us. However, a civilized person will only enjoy a powerful form that is the successful expression of a real function<<.

These words, quoted in The Studio in 1929, left no doubt about Jourdain’s views on the “mania for decoration, the abundance of ornament and the aesthetic attitude associated with it.” He started out as a painter and showed his pictures at the exhibitions of the Société des Artistes Indépendants together with such important colleagues as Cézanne, Toulouse-Lautrec, Matisse, van Rysselberghe, Kandinsky and Maurice Denis. In 1912 he founded the Atelier Moderne and designed wallpapers, carpets and ceramics in cheap materials for the masses.

During his work as a designer, Jourdain quickly realized that electricity and scientific progress also brought with them new design tasks. His model furnishings, which were regularly shown in the Autumn Salon until 1938 and also exhibited by the Union des Artistes Modernes since 1930, succinctly embodied his theory that “the meaning of a house, a soup bowl or a chair cannot be purely decorative.” A children’s home (1920), a dining room (1923) and a high school (1925), which he designed, show his preference for right angles. His lamp designs are no different: ceiling lamps, appliques, backward-lit panels made of colored glass and illuminated tables, which he produced in collaboration with André Salomon in 1937 for the light pavilion at the International Exhibition, are characterized by architectural practicality.

Source: Alastair Duncan, Lampen Lüster Leuchter, Jugendstil Art Déco, Prestel-Verlag, München 1979, p.173-174.

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