No. 530 . 31 August 2011 
ArchitectureWeek

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Maison Carré in Bazoches-sur-Guyonne, France (1956-1959), designed by Alvar Aalto, merges house and gallery into an elegantly inflected Modern landscape sculpture of home. Photo: © Jari Jetsonen

Maison Carré by Alvar Aalto

by Jari Jetsonen and Sirkkaliisa Jetsonen

Maison Carré in Bazoches-sur-Guyonne, France, is a private house by Alvar Aalto, stamped to a major extent by the owner being an art collector: one could say that it is at the same time a private palais and a gallery.

"In accordance with the wishes of the owner, the main principle is that family life and art are not separated one from the other; the tendency is the reverse, a very intimate connection between them both."

The above excerpt could be describing the Villa Mairea (1937-1939), but in fact it is how Aalto presented the Maison Carré (1956-1959) in Arkkitehti, a Finnish architectural journal, in 1961.

A series of coincidences had brought the French gallerist and art collector Louis Carré and the Finnish architect together. Carré first opened his Paris gallery in the late 1930s, which would become increasingly notable with exhibitions of Henri Matisse, Raoul Dufy, Fernand Léger, Alexander Calder, and Pablo Picasso during and after World War II.

In the early 1950s, when the art collector decided to build a modern home in the countryside west of Paris, he discussed the question of the future architect with Léger and Calder, who both knew Aalto and recommended him.

A Swedish art dealer friend gave Carré the same advice, so he contacted the architect in 1955. The project finally started a year later, after the two had met in Venice and found "a mutual understanding beginning at the diner at Hotel Danieli — with a view on the Grand Canal."   >>>

This article is excerpted from Alvar Aalto Houses by Jari Jetsonen and Sirkkaliisa Jetsonen, copyright © 2011, with permission of the publisher, Princeton Architectural Press.

 

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