Sunday, September 03, 2006

Guimard's Mezzara

Managed to catch the last day of an exhibition in the rarely-open Hotel Mezzara (60 rue Lafontaine in the 16th arrondissement), designed by my all-time-favourite Art Nouveau architect, Hector Guimard--that's him there, in his "Castel Beranger" office around 1900. I'd never been inside the rarely-open Mezzara, and I was amazed to discover the soaring entrance lobby, with a stained glass skylight in the shape of a textile shuttle...because Guimard built the mansion for a textile magnate, who showed his products to clients who visited the mansion. All but the dining room furnishings have disappeared, but the building is in good shape and there's a small association petitioning to get a Guimard museum installed. They organized this recent exhibit around the postcards Guimard used to create to promote his architecture business.

It's worth walking past the outside of the Mezzara if you're in the neighborhood, especially since four other Guimard masterpieces are nearby: check out the Castel Beranger (nicknamed the "Deranged Castle") at 16 rue de la Fontaine, the apartment blocks at the corner of rue Agar and rue de la Fontaine, the Tremois at 11 rue Francois-Millet, and the house he built for himself and his wife, at 18 rue Henri-Heine (squeezed into a tiny triangular footprint of land!) I love Guimard's obsession with grillwork and his "organic" line.

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