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Letter from Dublin

September 2012

Gray's sterility

by Anthony Daniels

On Eileen Gray and her cold aesthetic.

Preparatory to my visit to Dublin, friends with whom I was to stay kept for me an article from the February 25 edition of Irish Times magazine. It was about Eileen Gray, the Irish avant-garde designer who spent most of her life in Paris, and one of whose chairs sold at auction for $27 million in 2009, thus giving a new meaning to the expression “sitting on a fortune.”

The article informed readers that a film was to be made about an episode in Gray’s life, in which she was to be the heroine and Le Corbusier the villain. It goes without saying that I have a prejudice in favor of any film in which Le Corbusier is cast as the villain, but—alas—I fear that this particular film will do more harm than good because its unspoken aesthetic premises are all wrong.

In 1929, Gray built a modernist villa in the South of France with her then-lover, the Romanian architect Jean Badovici. Not on ...

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Anthony Daniels's most recent book is In Praise of Prejudice (Encounter Books).


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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 31 September 2012, on page 34

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