Rene Coulon 1908 —1997


RENE COULON (1908-1997)  


Rene Coulon (Coulon & Cie),  was an architect and glass furniture designer during the height of the Arte Deco period in Paris, France.  The last International Fair before World War II was the 1937 International Arts and technics fair in Paris. Pavillon Saint-Gobain was designed by Rene Coulon.

The term 'Art Deco' only came to general use in the 1960s, but it refers back to the Great Exhibition of Arts Decoratifs held in Paris in 1925 which presented to the world a dazzling new style that was to be the successor of Art Nouveau, the style of modernism, of the jazz age, ocean liners, cinemas and of sky scrapers.

The Art Deco movement - with its emphasis on up-to-date individuality combined with good taste, fine materials and exquisite workmanship - became all the rage in France.
Other countries including the USA, Britain and Germany produced their own often equally successful versions of the style. In furniture especially, the French predominated: the world had not seen such creative design for 125 years. On the one hand, the virtuoso cabinet-making of Ruhlmann and Primavera, on the other the brilliant originality of Gray and Jean Royere.

The Art Deco period of the 1920s and 1930s saw a clear partnership develop between architects, designers and craftsmen in the production of decorative schemes for the interior of the new Modernist and Art Deco-style buildings and apartments. Interior design employed furniture manufacturers, metal workers, ceramic factories and the textile industry to produce individual items which, when placed together, would create an overall coherent scheme for a room or building.

Retailers such as Boucheron, Chaumet, Coulon & Cie and Le Maison Aucoc in Paris who retained their own private workshops, supplied royal households as well as the nouveau riche of the day.

Rene Coulon designed the Saint-Gobain Pavillion at the Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne.  

Displaying arts from the Art Deco period, the landmark Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne (Art and Technology in Modern Life) opened  May 25, 1937, after 8 years of turbulent preparation.  It was the last world exhibition to take place in Paris before World War II. The Coulon Pavillion of 1937 was historic.      
In 2006, the Musee d'Orsay staged a major exhibition of the history of Saint Gobain (Compagnie des Glaces founded in 1665 by the Jean-Baptiste Colbert, a visionary French politician, Controller-General of Finance under Louis XIV).  In the d'Orsay's publicity they wrote:  The wealth of the Company's archives enable the display to include a surprising variety of objects: watercolours, drawings, mirrors, blocks of glass... images of Versailles,
the extraordinary "glass house" and the stunning Coulhon (Coulon) pavillion of 1937.  The Pavillon Saint-Gobain was sponsored by Saint-Gobain, the only survivor of a group of private manufacturers founded in 1665,  today a multi-billion dollar company. 

The 2006 Musee d'Orsay exhibition included watercolors relating to the firm's inventions from the Musee des techniques et de la Culture Scientific.  The show at the Musee d'Orsay March 7- June 4, 2006  covered three centuries of history told through the production of a unique company, from the Galerie des Glaces in Versailles to the Nevadda glass bricks in the famous "Glass House" (1928-1931) designed by Pierre Chareau and  the glass for the Louvre pyramid.

Furniture designed by Rene Coulon for Saint-Gobain occasionally comes up for auction.  
The estimates of two auction sales underscore the importance of Rene Coulon.
Tajan, Paris.  June 12, 2007, lot 75  RENE COULON (1908-1997) & Saint-Gobain.  "Spectaculaire canapé, structure formee de lames de verre courbe.  Prototype modele concu pour l'Exposition Universelle de 1937, Pavillon dy verre Saint-Gobain dans lequel de nombreux amenagements furent reallses par Jacques Adnet.  (translation: "Spectacular settee, structure formee of blades of curved glass.  Model prototype designed for the World Fair of 1937, House Dy Saint-Gobain glass in which many installations were realized by Jacques Adnet.)  Signature incise "Rene Coulon BTE SGDG"  Est 120,000 / 150,000 Euros.  

Christies March 29-31, 2011 in an extensive catalogue note for lot 32. Jacques Adnet's  Suspension, c.1930 est. $70,000 - $98,000.  discusses Adnet's collaboration with Rene Coulon in a remarkable series of tempered glass furnishings  in 1937 for the automobile industry.  "La collaboration de René Coulon avec les Glaceries de Saint-Gobain donnera lieu en 1937 à une remarquable série de meubles en verre trempé, mis au point pour l'industrie automobile. Et bien qu'aucun des meubles de Coulon ne dépassera le stade du prototype, ces recherches rendent compte de l'approche méthodique qui lie esthétique rationnelle et procédés industriels."  (translation: The collaboration of Rene Coulon with the Mirror factories of Saint-Gobain will give place in 1937 to a remarkable series of tempered glass pieces of furniture, developed at the point for the car industry. And although none the pieces of furniture Coulon will exceed the stage of the prototype, this research returns account of the methodical approach which binds aesthetic rational and processes industrial.)   

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