September 18, 2014
by Canadian Architect
On October 15, 2014, the Architecture & Design Film Festival will celebrate its sixth season in New York with the World Premiere of Marco Orsini’s captivating documentary, Gray Matters. The film presents the story of Eileen Gray, the 20th-century artist whose vision, imagination and sensibility changed the way we live with furniture and within houses. It is a historical, scholarly and cinematic investigation of the life and career of one of the most influential, but least known, Modernist icons who built the first concrete Modernist villa and made the most expensive piece of furniture ever sold at auction. Gray Matters will be screened at Tribeca Cinemas for the opening night presentation of the Architecture & Design Film Festival and will be replayed on the festival’s closing day, October 19, 2014.
According to Architecture & Design Film Festival Founder and Director, Kyle Bergman, “Until very recently, Eileen Gray was one of the greatest unsung design heroes of the 20th century. While we’re delighted to present films on contemporary icons such as Zaha Hadid, Michele de Lucchi, and Michael Graves, this is a special opportunity to share Gray’s important contributions and pioneering spirit with a new generation of design and architecture enthusiasts.”
Gray Matters seeks to explain who Gray was, to survey her immense range of creative activity, and to explore how her artistic journey shaped the world we inhabit today. Marco Orsini and his crew followed Gray’s own travels, from the Irish countryside to London, from Paris to the Riviera and beyond, in researching Gray’s background, her education and her early apprenticeship in the dangerous art of Japanese lacquer, the medium in which she began her extraordinary career. Of aristocratic birth and financially independent, she was a woman of wide and celebrated acquaintance who spent her life at the epicentre of Modernist invention. She experienced early triumphs, followed by middle-aged obscurity, succeeded by a decade of rediscovery and acclaim that has only increased in the decades since her death.
The film examines Gray’s lifelong immersion in art, design and architecture—her fierce dedication to the work and unswerving faith in her aesthetic vision—while chronicling her inspiration, her challenges, and her influence, as well as the tragedies and controversies that punctuated her exceptional life. It considers the contemporary relevance of her Modern and Minimalist architectural and design aesthetic, with Gray’s newly restored masterpiece, the Villa E1027, playing a leading role in this compelling account of inspiration, rivalry, jealousy, neglect and rehabilitation. By the end of the film, the hypothesis is proven: Gray matters, profoundly and in so many ways.
Featuring never-before-seen footage and candid interviews with the world’s foremost scholars, curators, auctioneers and collectors—including four living peers and collaborators of the artist—Gray Matters appears at the perfect moment. Much that it depicts will never again be available to any filmmaker.
Championed by a new generation of scholars, artists and collectors, Eileen Gray—the artist and individual—has finally emerged from intrigue and dispute as new research illuminates all aspects of the phenomenon that was her career. In pursuit of that goal, Gray Matters finds itself in excellent company. The past two years have brought two blockbuster exhibitions devoted to Eileen Gray’s career—at the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, respectively.
For information on Gray Matters and other films playing at the Architecture & Design Film Festival, please visit www.adfilmfest.com.