Perspectives – When walls wear architecture

Until  11 september 2022


At first sight, wallpaper and architecture do not appear to have a great deal in common. And yet they have a close relationship: one, the art of building walls; the other, the art of decorating walls. This exhibition highlights the rich and diverse links between wallpaper and architecture with over 160 exhibits, more than sixty of which have never been published before.

Queen of the Arts, architecture is a great inspiration to the decorative arts and especially wallpaper which brings architecture’s forms and ornamentations into the world of interior design. Various architectural elements are imitated or reinterpreted in compositions specific to this medium, sometimes bordering on abstraction. Some patterns also play with the idea of decoration: over the last few decades artists and designers have come up with themes reminiscent of walls that have been defaced, a level of originality made possible by the ease with which wallpaper can be changed.

A truly classical motif is the monument, which also appears in this decorative art as the main subject of the composition where it becomes the vector for numerous symbolic messages, such as patriotism. Placed in the background of narrative scenes, on the other hand, buildings help to set the scene and make the vignette much easier to identify.

Wallpaper has also aroused the interest of many renowned  architects.  Choosing  or creating the patterns for some of their buildings allowed them to take a global view of housing and interior design. Collaborating with wallpaper manufacturers also gave them the opportunity to address the social and economic problems of their time.

This medium also has the ability to interact with interior space by using optical illusion. Abstract geometric patterns manage to confuse our perception of the wallpapered room by simulating depth and vibrational effects. This investigation into optical effects is particularly vibrant in the current offering with large-format digital design only serving to intensify the disruption to our senses.

Curator : Maëlys Fernandes, chargée de mission à la conservation