Hector Guimard: How Paris Got Its Curves invites a new understanding of France’s most famous art nouveau architect, Hector Guimard (1867–1942).

Guimard is perhaps best known for his designs for the Paris Métro stations (1898–1900) and private residences like Castel Béranger (1895–97)—both important commissions broadcasting the art nouveau style he was developing at the turn of the century. The repeated use of organically curved, undulating lines anchored his efforts to create an eponymous brand he called le style Guimard. Lesser known is his more pared-down work for several standardized housing projects from the 1920s, attesting to his socialist and pacificist leanings. Though seemingly opposite in appearance, these later projects were always critical components of the Guimard style.

Providing urban and historical context for the full range of Guimard’s design work, this exhibition reexamines le style Guimard through the lens of his design processes and marketing strategies.

EXHIBITION HIGHLIGHTS

publication

The exhibition is accompanied by the publication Hector Guimard: Art Nouveau to Modernism edited by David A. Hanks (Yale University Press in association with the Richard H. Driehaus Museum, 2021).

Available at SHOP Cooper Hewitt.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Hector Guimard: How Paris Got Its Curves is organized by Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, New York, and the Richard H. Driehaus Museum, Chicago. Following its presentation at Cooper Hewitt, the exhibition will travel to the Driehaus Museum (June 22, 2023, through Jan. 7, 2024).

At Cooper Hewitt, Hector Guimard: How Paris Got Its Curves was curated by Yao-Fen You, senior curator and head of product design and decorative arts, with Andrea Lacalamita, curatorial fellow, and support from Phoebe Boosalis Moore, former program assistant, and Alisa Chiles, former Smithsonian fellow.

Exhibition design and graphic design by Studio Joseph.

SUPPORT

Hector Guimard: How Paris Got Its Curves is made possible with major support from Denise Littlefield Sobel.

Generous support is provided by The Lemberg Foundation and Marilyn F. Friedman. Support is also provided by the August Heckscher Exhibition Fund, The Felicia Fund, and Margery F. Masinter.

related Exhibition

In December, Cooper Hewitt will open a complementary exhibition, Deconstructing Power: W. E. B. Du Bois at the 1900 World’s Fair. Decorative arts from Cooper Hewitt’s permanent collection will be placed in dialogue with 20 innovative data visualizations created for the 1900 Paris World’s Fair by W. E. B. Du Bois (1868–1963) to explore how design can both reveal and mask dynamics of power and equity. Learn more.

 

Sepia toned postcard with man sketching at drafting table with ornate fireplace in back. Top of postcard reads "Le Style Guimard"
Hector Guimard’s Standard-Construction System
A photo album in Cooper Hewitt’s collection documents the construction of a prototype house in Paris, France, that demonstrates the principles of Standard-Construction, a patented modular building system designed by French architect Hector Guimard in the early 20th century. Like many architects of his time, Guimard explored the possibility for standardization and prefabrication to streamline...