Release Date: April 25, 2000
National Gallery of Art Acquires Turn-of-Century Paris Metropolitan Entrance: After Exhibition Tour to be Installed in Sculpture Garden
Washington, DC—The National Gallery of Art has acquired one of the few remaining turn-of-the-century Paris Métropolitain entrances that were removed between the 1930s and 1960s but not destroyed. Of the 141 models designed by French architect Hector Guimard and installed in Paris in between 1900 and 1913, 86 are still standing today in the city and have been registered since 1978 as Monuments Historiques. The Gallery's acquisition was made possible by a gift from Robert P. and Arlene R. Kogod.
The Métropolitain Entrance (c.1898) will be on view at the three venues of the exhibition Art Nouveau,1890-1914: Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 6 April through 30 July 2000; National Gallery of Art, Washington, 8 October 2000 through 28 January 2001; and Tokyo Metropolitan Museum, 21 April through 8 July 2001. Then the cast-iron entrance will be installed in front of the Art Nouveau revival pavilion (designed in 1988 by Charles Bassett) leading to the grand fountain and reflecting pool in the National Gallery of Art's Sculpture Garden in late 2001. The Métropolitain entrance measures approximately fourteen feet tall and twelve feet wide.
"Since their installation at the time of the 1900 Paris World Fair, Hector Guimard's entrances to the Paris Métropolitain have been a symbol of the Art Nouveau movement. Radical and remarkably original in their combination of ornament and structure, they are considered masterpieces of Art Nouveau," said Earl A. Powell lll, director, National Gallery of Art. "The famous work from the beginning of this century will delight visitors who pass through it on their way to eat in the pavilion restaurant, sit by the fountain, skate on the ice rink, or enjoy the post-World War II sculptures and landscaping throughout our Sculpture Garden."
A leading figure of Art Nouveau and modernism in France, Guimard was the first to create Art Nouveau designs in French architecture in 1893 and his Métro entrances are among his most famous creations. He exploited the versatility of the cast iron to produce highly original designs and conceived a standardized and modular system that could be adapted to the different sites in Paris, while allowing for aesthetic variations. His Métro entrances embody the principles of Art Nouveau in their graceful curvilinear design inspired by nature, notably the structural quality of the plant stem, and in the modernity of their fabrication. Due to the pervasiveness of these structures in Paris, the Art Nouveau movement was often called at the time Le Style Métro or Le Style Guimard.
In Washington, Art Nouveau, 1890-1914 is made possible by DaimlerChrysler Corporation Fund.
Additional support for the exhibition is provided by the Terra Foundation for the Arts, Robert P. and Arlene R. Kogod, Eleanor and Donald Taffner, and The Fund for the International Exchange of Art.
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