All Things (Eileen) Gray

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Eileen Gray is finally getting her due. The Irish-born architect and designer has enjoyed a certain amount of fame, not least because of the sale of her Dragon chair at the Yves Saint Laurent-Pierre Bergé sale in 2009. But the enormous range of her talents has long been obscured, in large part because of the jealousy of her “friend” the Swiss architect Le Corbusier. The tale of his efforts to deface and erase Gray’s reputation is the subject of The Price of Desire, a feature length film to be released early next year. Starring Orla Brady as Gray, Swiss actor Vincent Perez as Le Corbusier, and Francesco Scianna (seen with Orla Brady in the still above) and Alanis Morissette as Gray’s lovers the Romanian architect Jean Badovici and French chanteuse Marisa Damia, the movie explores the tale of insidious chauvinism experienced by this remarkable bisexual Irish artist, architect, and designer.

But, says the film’s director Mary McGuckian, there is now “more than a movie, more of a movement” to reassert Gray’s primacy as one of the most forceful and influential inspirations in modern architecture and design. A pre-release screening of Marco Orsini’s revisionary documentary Gray Matters opened last October’s Architecture and Design Film Festival in New York (it will be broadcast in France in December and released internationally in early 2015); and in January Eileen Gray: Her Work and Her World by Gray scholar Jennifer Goff will be published by the Irish Academic Press. In May 2015 Gray’s E.1027 villa in southern France will finally open to the public, and the following year will see a major exhibition of Gray’s work organized by the Centre Pompidou and the Bard Graduate Center in New York. Add the soundtrack from The Price of Desire featuring Morissette singing Damia’s standard “On Danse à La Villette” and Julian Lennon’s photographs of the film in production, and it seems safe to say Gray will never disappear again.