Monique and Michel Guibert turned their residence in Saint-Lô into a veritable showcase of the arts in the 1950s-1960s. Their enlightened vision gave pride of place to Charlotte Perriand’s timeless furniture.
Charlotte Perriand (1903–1999) for Steph Simon, Type Plots bookcase, eight interleaved shelves, cherry wood veneer, 11 aluminum sheet shelves of different sizes, resting on two removable wooden legs, 1959, 214 x 177 x 33.5 cm/84.25 x 69.68 x 13.18 in.
In 1959, Monique and Michel Guibert installed Charlotte Perriand’s bookcase on the landing of the staircase in their home in Saint-Lô (Manche) in Normandy. Until recently, it held the many books that this couple of well-informed collectors consulted for decades. They were "passionate about travel, archaeology, history and art history", says the young auctioneer, Marie Laurenson, who is preparing to conduct her brand new auction house’s first sale. Despite a hectic family and professional life, the Guibert even set aside two days a week to visit the galleries in the Saint Germain-des-Prés neighborhood and museums in Paris. Indeed, Michel was a psychiatrist and director of the Bon-Sauveur Foundation’s hospital in Saint-Lô. Passionate about Art Brut, then a new concept, he was the honorary president of the société française de psychopathologie de l’expression et d’art thérapie (French Society of the Psychopathology of Expression and Art Therapy). With her avant-garde vision and astute judgment honed by evening classes at the École du Louvre, Monique made several of their purchases. The couple patronized bold dealers then considered by many as too modern. From 1950 to 1960, they acquired works by Pierre Guariche, Isamu Noguchi, Verner Panton and Charles Dudouyt for their home. Olivier Mourgue and Achille Castiglioni followed.
The sale offers about 30 pieces of furniture and lighting fixtures as well as Charlotte Perriand’s impressive Type Plots bookcase that the couple purchased in 1959 from Steph Simon, which has been confirmed by the Laffanour Gallery, the invoice and a corrected plan of the special order. The made-to-measure, and thus necessarily unique, bookcase illustrates Perriand’s modernist experiments in the 1950s, especially after her trip to Japan, where she studied mass-manufactured modular parts. Tie rods and fastening sleeves connect wooden planks and aluminum studs to each other, recalling the light "cloud" arrangement of shelves she saw at the imperial palace in Kyoto. This model, which exists in a wall-mounted or freestanding version, was introduced at the 1955 Paris exhibition "Proposition d’une synthèse des arts" ("Proposal for a Synthesis of the Arts") and produced by Steph Simon from 1956 to 1970.
During this period, Perriand frequently worked on major reconstruction projects, notably the France-United States Memorial Medical Center in Saint-Lô, a place with which Dr. Guibert must have been very familiar. Built between 1949 and 1956, the project was led by Franco-American architect Paul Nelson, whose humanist vision, influenced by Le Corbusier and Mallet-Stevens, revolutionized hospital architecture in France. He sought to make such facilities not only functional by distinguishing between the various departments, but also a source of wellness by adding colors and artworks. For example, Jean Prouvé designed an egg-shaped operating room, Fernand Léger painted a large mural and Perriand created airy and practical furniture. Saint-Lô then became the capital of modernism!