Artists' Rug Exhibition at Atelier Courbet

Artists' Rug Exhibition at Atelier Courbet

Vladimir Kagan and Frank Gehry join French modern masters in a new rug exhibition at Atelier Courbet Master Craftsman Gallery in Nolita.

Coinciding with the New York Armory Show, the master craftsman gallery Atelier Courbet in Nolita, unveiled a limited edition series of artist rugs by modern masters and their design contemporaries on March 6. The exhibition is the result of a fresh collaboration between Melanie Courbet, the young gallery owner and curator, whose background in contemporary design and architecture compliments the rich artistic pedigree of Parisian patron, designer, and curator Sabine de Gunzburg. "The exhibition is really an exchange between me and Melanie, between the artist she has and the artists I have," de Gunzburg says.

Sabine de Gunzburg—a former interior designer, patron of the arts, and collector based in Paris—curated the exhibition at Atelier Courbet. She has been making rugs for clients as well under her own label, S2G Design, for the past few years. This is her first U.S. exhibition.

A series of six rugs and modern tapestries hand-woven from 100-percent silk under the meticulous supervision of de Gunzburg are on exhibit and on sale at the gallery. The Artists' Rugs Collection includes signed woven-drawings by artists Francis Picabia and Serge Poliakoff as well as new woven paintings by Frank Gehry and Vladimir Kagan. The intricate work of Matthias Bitzer is also included; athe opening of his show later this month at Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York coincides with this exhibition.

De Gunzburg has been working with teams of master craftsman in India and Nepal to create rugs and modern tapestries that are hand woven with 100-percent silk thread. The prints are a mix of her own designs and paintings or drawings by Franch artists, like Francis Picabia, who have long been close to her and her family.

De Gunzburg grew up in a Parisian family of antique and art collectors. Her mother, France Seligmann, ran a gallery and was a familiar face in the days of Gertrude Stein’s salons. She commissioned her contemporaries at the time—Fernand Leger, Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso, and Alexander Calder—to do a series of artists' rugs in wool, which was the material used predominantly at the time. Decades later, de Gunzburg picked up where her mother left off, this time catering to the modern demands of her clients. "I was working as an interior designer and my clients wanted rich silk carpets, but there was nothing in the market, so I started traveling to India." Soon she was commissioning rugs under her own label, S2G Design, working with talented artists such as Sam Szafran, Peter Peri, Mark Barrow, and Matthias Bitzer.

De Gunzburg travels often to her workshop in Nepal where she makes rugs for other interior designers as well as for her own collection, S2G Design. Already a hit in Europe, her collaboration with Atelier Courbet is her first foray into the U.S. market.

For this show, her first American exhibition, de Gunzburg drew from her family’s trove of art and connections, securing access from the estates of Picabia and Poliakoff to replicate their work. Courbet, who has long consulted in the design world for people such as architect Thom Mayne and designer Dror Benshetrit, selected Gehry and Kagan based on her personal relationships with the designers. "I liked that one was a designer and one was an architect," Courbet says. "I want there to be a shared creative language that can include fashion designers and photographers—it doesn’t have to be just artists."

France Seligmann, Sabine de Gunzburg's mother, commissioned wool rugs by many famous artists, including Fernand Leger, Pablo Picasso, and Georges Braque for her Lucie Weil gallery. Gunzburg switched to silk because of the tonality that can come from the material. "With silk, one color can give you 10 different tones, while wool gives you one," she says.

This shared narrative is expressed beautifully against the dark canvas of the new Atelier Courbet space. The show will be on view through April 2014 at Atelier Courbet, 177 Mott Street, New York. 

One of the rugs in the collection is by Serge Poliakoff. The Russian-born French modernist painter was considered one of the most powerful of his generation. The woven drawings are signed by the artists with certificates from his estate.

Another rug in the series is this woven painting by iconic modern furniture designer Vladimir Kagan. The German-born designer studied architecture at Columbia University and has been New York-based ever since. He was on hand for the opening reception and said he would be excited "when we’ve sold three," he says. Each rug retails for $25,000.


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