Marc Held

Born in 1932 - France


Born in 1932 to a family of Eastern European immigrants, Marc Held is considered one of the leading designers of the 1970s.

Born in Paris, Held grew up in the Parisian suburb of Bagnolet, in a world steeped with communist ideology. During the occupation of World War II, he found refuge with his mother in Corrèze, where he discovered nature and rural architecture. He returned to Paris in the 1950s during the height of the theatre scene, which was seeing a rebirth of the “Théâtre National Populaire” under the leadership of Jean Vilar, and the jazz scene made popular in the clubs of Saint-Germain. At the age of 20 Marc Held discovered photography.

Following a prevailing principle of the time created by writer and poet Philippe Soupault, the ’coeur dans les yeux’ (heart in the eyes), Held sought to show people through a filter of their own humanity and capture mankind in a positive light.

Pushed by this desire to bear witness to and reveal the society around him, he spent ten years, with first a Zeiss Ikon camera, and later a Leica M3, photographing this small world that surrounded him, from the Paris of the underprivileged, still devastated from the years following the war, to political protests, to children at study and play, adults on the beach, the Corrèze of his childhood, his first escapades far from the city or the suburbs under construction. It was also the beginning of Held’s interest in design, which he discovered in the shop windows of furniture makers Knoll and Mobilier International, an environment that fascinated him and led him to become a designer. Throughout his development as a photographer, a designer and later as an architect, the humanist and cultural values instilled in him as a child, have always been present.

In 1960 he decided to pursue design and architecture and created his studio of industrial design in Paris, where he works today serving an international cliental. His many creations have received high praise in the media. He is notably the creator of a plastic bed, which in 1968 made the cover of the catalogue of Prisunic, a popular chain of shops in France. Held is also the designer of the famous ‘Culbuto’ armchair, created with design house Knoll in 1970, which perfectly embodies the aesthetic of the time. Held’s work has been exhibited extensively, including at the Triennale de Milan, Erodomus, and his works feature in several museum collections.

Starting in 1974, strengthened by his experiences and without abandoning his product design practice, he started his career as an architect. Basing his practice on a rigorous methodology of complete involvement in every step of the design, he refused to produce more than he believed to be able to carry out personally. He thus created remarkable works, at first on a smaller scale, but that the international press published widely.

In 1983, at the request of the French President, François Mitterrand, he designed the interiors of the presidential apartments and created for the Élysées Palace, in collaboration cabinetmakers from around France, exceptional furniture: a bureau, sideboards, chairs and a dining table. In 1990 he was nominated for the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters).

His photographs have been praised by numerous figures from politician Jack Lang to director Agnès Varda, who introduced his first photographic series. Rich in almost 300 images, this body of work reveals the root and the sense of an undertaking carried by the aspiration of a changing society and the desire of a creator who is at once classical and modern.

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2014 "Marc Held Photographies et Design. Un plongeon dans les années 50", VOZ'Galerie, Boulogne-Billancourt                (voir le diaporama)
2013 Cité du Design de Saint-Etienne
2013 "De la Photographie au Design", Galerie Alexis Pentcheff, Marseille
2013 "De la Photographie au Design", Galerie Marion Held-Javal, Paris
2013 Palais des Congrès, Paris
2011 Exposition au musée de Thessalonique, Grèce
2011 Présentation du « Primoculbuto », un modèle de siège conçu au début des années 60 et jamais édité
2010 Chic Art Fair, Paris
2010 « Mobi-Boom, l’explosion du design en France (1945-1975) » du 23 septembre 2010 au 2 janvier 2011, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris
1972 Exposition chez Bloomingdale's, New York

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