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Jean Prouvé – Architect for Better Days

Until May 1st 2018
Grande Halle, Parc des Ateliers, Arles

As part of its guest program, the LUMA Foundation, together with Paris-based Galerie Patrick Seguin, is pleased to announce JEAN PROUVÉ: Architect for Better Days, a major survey exhibition devoted to the innovative twentieth-century French designer of furniture and architecture. Comprising twelve prefabricated buildings created between 1939 and 1969, this exhibition features the largest number of Prouvé’s demountable construction systems ever assembled in a single location, and aims to revisit the functional side of his architecture, a focus that is as timely and relevant as ever in light of today’s housing and migratory crisis.

Following the installation of four houses at the Parc des Ateliers in Arles in May, the full exhibition opens October 20, 2017 and runs through spring 2018. That the structures are installed within and in close proximity to La Grande Halle – an exhibition venue wrought from a nineteenth-century foundry—is a fitting tribute to Prouvé’s training as an artisan metalworker.
Jean Prouvé (1901-1984), regarded today as one of the most enduring and important figures of twentieth-century design, approached the construction of furniture in the same way he constructed a house. In order to describe this balance of material integrity, innovative and economical construction, and elemental design, Le Corbusier designated Prouvé a constructeur. At once an architect and an engineer, the term encompasses the singularity of Prouvé’s elegant approach as well as his vital social motivation, manufacturing “brilliant solutions” for the modern era’s most urgent needs. Though Prouvé is today synonymous with the bent sheet-steel frames of his now-iconic furniture, his seminal contributions to modern architecture and his socially engaged praxis as constructeur –united the realms of industry, architecture, engineering and design– deserve far more attention than they have historically been afforded.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a survey publication produced by the LUMA Foundation in collaboration with Phaidon Press. The book features two newly commissioned essays by architect, critic, theorist and Dean Emeritus of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Prof. Mark Wigley, and Philippe Trétiack, a Paris-based architecture critic and author, and includes a wealth of historical and archival material on the twelve constructions exhibited at LUMA Arles, and Prouvé’s oeuvre in general.

THE SIMPLE LIFE – SIMPLY LIFE / Songs of Alienation

From October 7th 2017 to April 2nd 2018 – Vincent van Gogh Foundation – Arles

Bringing together a selection of works by contemporary and historical artists, this autumn’s collective exhibition spotlights our conceptions of a life of simplicity. In a wealth of free associations, it explores the fantasies and waves of nostalgia conjured by its very title, La Vie simple – Simplement la vie (“The Simple Life – Simply Life”).
The idealized notion of the simple life was born, for Van Gogh, out of his first-hand experiences as a young pastor in the Borinage, the coal-mining basin in Wallonia. The same ideal drew him to the works of Jean-François Millet, the painter of 19th-century French peasant life, for whose art and person he held an unwavering admiration. Millet and Van Gogh are the two historical anchors serving as a basis for the exhibition and at the same time sanction a cheerful and lively approach to its theme. Just as Van Gogh translates Millet’s peasant scenes into movement and colour, so the majority of the works assembled here pursue the Dutch artist’s wish “to show that one can be simple with something other than grey, white, black and brown.”1
Conceived specially for the exhibition or rarely seen before in France, the works in La Vie simple – Simplement la vie evoke the different aspects covered under the term “simplicity” – such as alternative forms of living, for example, and humankind’s relationship with nature and animals. The contributions by living artists also serve to deconstruct the myth of the simple life as one of calm and purification.
The film The Pure Necessity (2016) by David Claerbout is an astonishing adaptation of Disney’s animated movie classic The Jungle Book of 1967. Pawel Althamer’s installation sets the stage for a friendly encounter between visitors and feathered creatures, while the film O Peixe (The Fish) (2016) by Jonathas de Andrade, shot in Brazil, calls up ambiguous feelings as we watch an animal die. The series of photographs by Yto Barrada under the title Iris Tingitana (2007), the Latin species name of the Tangerian iris, refers us to the “botany of power” as well as to a flower very present in the iconography of Van Gogh, while the woodcuts by Andrea Büttner seem to offer a hymn to humility. The objects of religious devotion and the representation of local trades that we find in Van Gogh’s paintings are interrogated, lastly, via a selection of Provençal figurines from the 18th and 19th century.

Exhibition curator: Bice Curiger
In collaboration with Julia Marchand, assistant curator
1 Letter from Vincent van Gogh to his sister Willemien, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, 21 October 1889.

Tour of the Construction Info Centre

LUMA Arles

LUMA Arles is a new experimental cultural complex grouping artists, researchers and creators from different sectors with the idea of developing interdisciplinary projects and exhibitions.
Located to the south of the Arles historic city center, the project consists of the renovation of the former SNCF repair shops site, covering a total of 10 hectares, and the creation of a public park at the “Parc des Ateliers”. The “Parc des Ateliers” Ressource building will be inaugurated in 2018. But already artistic programs developed in collaboration with the LUMA Arles Core Group are being periodically presented in buildings that have recently been inaugurated : The Main Hall, The Blacksmiths‟ Shop and the Mechanics‟ Shop.

Join the LUMA Arles knowledgable staff and register for a public tour of our Construction Info Centre at the Parc des Ateliers to discover the history of the Parc des Ateliers and learn about the architectural and cultural projects of LUMA Arles.
At the Construction Info Centre you will have the opportunity to ‘virtually’ walk through two buildings: the new building designed by Frank Gehry and the Atelier de la Mécanique, one of the original, industrial buildings renovated by Selldorf Architects. Samples of the materials used for the buildings are also presented and you will be able to see the entire construction site from a panorama-terrace.

Tours are free and last approximately 1h 15min. They start at the Maison du Projet, which is located at the Parc des Ateliers, 33 avenue Victor Hugo, in Arles.
Please note that for security reasons, the virtual visit is only available for children aged 13 years and over.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact the LUMA Arles team at or by phone: +334 90 47 76 17.


We would like to thank everyone who has taking time to share its experience about the time spent in our establishment.

The Hôtel du Cloître team