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Emilio Terry, architecte et décorateur

Pierre Arizzoli-Clémentel

In this era where we are all chronically dependent on images, here is a strange book: though it presents the work of decorator Emilio Terry (1890-1969), one of the stars of the post war period, without a single illustration, except for the chapter headings, watercolors commissioned from Laurent de Commines. This is due to a conflict with the heirs who refused any reproduction, though Terry’s drawings were left to the School of Arts décoratifs. One has to have a great capacity of abstraction (and an internet connection to see for example the model of the spiral house) to penetrate this universe. The book is nevertheless very interesting, as Terry represents a generation of architects-decorators with great culture and an incomparable cosmopolitism. His family, natives from the county of Cork, in Ireland, made their fortune in Cuba in the sugar industry. Terry’s father owned the castle of Chenonceau for twenty years. All his children married European nobles -the de Castellane, Lucigny-Faucinge, etc. The chapters explore Emilio Terry’s major works, all late in life as he was already past fifty: the votive monument for Anna de Noailles, Niarchos’ town house in Paris, the castle of Groussay for Charles de Beistegui, villa Loste in the Basque region. Actually, this recollection can do very well without the images: it is the story of a long gone grandeur, inspired by the French XVIIIth century, a form of nostalgia.

Emilio Terry, architecte et décorateur, by Pierre Arizzoli-Clémentel, Gourcuff-Gradenigo, 304 p., €69.

Emilio Terry, architecte et décorateur - Pierre Arizzoli-Clémentel

Review published in the newsletter #336 - from 6 March 2014 to 12 March 2014

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