Author(s): Peter Adam
Eileen Gray started her career as a lacquer artist in Paris creating new furniture and living accessories with striking colors and understated shapes. Remaining stalwartly independent, Gray developed an opulent, luxuriant take on geometric forms and industrially produced materials. Her Bibendum chair and E-1027 table today are familiar icons across the world; the ship-shaped home she designed and built on a cliff near Monaco was hailed as a triumph of deluxe modern living; her Dragon chair fetched $28 million at a YSL sale. Her flamboyant beauty captured by photographer Berenice Abbott made her an admired figure among American expatriates such as Gertrude Stein and William Somerset Maugham. Her archives bombed during World War II, she was largely forgotten when one-time peers like Le Corbusier were lionized as visionaries. Rediscovered in 1960, she is today a celebrated pioneer of modern design.