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Well not exactly news actually, but news to me.  My friend Karen is an archivist of sorts…she saves, she bundles, she files…then she purges by sending off the myriad clippings and files she has saved to the people she knows are interested.  The other day this came in the mail…

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And she’s right…I love quonset huts, I BRAKE for quonset huts, and of course…I photograph quonset huts.  This an article from a 2007 Architectural Digest by Alastair Gordon on a quonset hut “designed” by French architect Pierre Chareau (1883-1950)…one of two…in a complex for working and living for the artist Robert Motherwell.

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Motherwell had purchased a four-acre plot in East Hampton’s estate section in 1945 for $1200.  Motherwell bought two surplus quonset hut kits from the navy in 1950 ($3000) and Chareau and Motherwell designed and imagined them into useful and beautiful structures…in exchange for Chareau being able to build a small cottage for himself on the land.  The article’s author Alastair Gordon suggests the project “was surprisingly sophisticated.  Certain elements suggested a cruder, low-budget version of Chareau’s masterwork, the Maison de Verre in Paris”, pictured below.

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The metal structural members in the quonsets were painted Calder red.  The windows Chareau and Motherwell used were re-purposed green house windows.  Motherwell sold the house in 1954 to Barney Rosset, the publisher of Grove Press, who owned the house until 1980.  In 1985 the new owners announced their decision to build an “Adirondack-style” house on the lot.  “Early in the morning of Friday, August 2, 1985, the Motherwell house was bull-dozed and carted off to a local landfill.”  The demolition included both Motherwell’s house and studio (“I did the best pictures of my life there…”) and Chareau’s tiny cottage “La Petite Maison de Repos”…the only three Chareau structures in the U.S.  Thankfully photographer Hans Namuth photographed the structures in 1953.

Here’s Motherwell standing with the first of the “Spanish Elegy” series…

 

 

 

 

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And here’s Rosset’s “remodel (note the spiral staircase and the brick floor)…

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Thanks Karen!