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Arts of Europe

The MFAH collections of art created on the European continent encompass artistic styles across the time line of history, from the ancient world to the Middle Ages, and the Early Modern era to the 21st century.

Jean Prouvé
French, 1901 - 1984
Folding Chair
Designed c. 1924–28, made 1929
Tubular steel and linen canvas

40 1/4 x 17 1/2 x 18 5/8 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Gift of J. Brian and Varina Eby, by exchange

Arts of Europe

Jean Prouvé is one of the most important French designers of the pre- and post-World War II period. Trained as a craftsman in wrought iron, Prouvé was also an engineer. Although he never had any formal education as an architect, his career encompassed structural designs as well as furniture. Metal was Prouvé's preferred material: steel, iron, and aluminum provided the basis for his designs. In this manner, he was part of a circle of French architects and designers such as Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret, Charlotte Perriand, and Robert Mallet-Stevens, all of whom experimented with the machine aesthetics and tensile strength of metal in their designs. Prouvé eventually established his own atelier for the production of furniture and components. Through this firm, he collaborated with contemporaries as well as fabricating his own work.

This Folding Chair is one of six that Prouvé created as a wedding present for his sister Marianne. The chairs were designed so that when not in use, they would nest together; their folded frames occupying a small space. This example is made of tubular steel, its individual elements hand-beaten—a direct tie back to Prouve's early training as a wrought-iron craftsman.