Eileen Gray and the Design of Sapphic Modernity: Staying In, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Eileen Gray and the Design of Sapphic Modernity

Staying In, 1st Edition

By Jasmine Rault


196 pages

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The first book-length feminist analysis of Eileen Gray's work, Eileen Gray and the Design of Sapphic Modernity: Staying In argues that Gray's unusual architecture and design - as well as its history of abuse and neglect - emerged from her involvement with cultures of sapphic modernism. Bringing together a range of theoretical and historical sources, from architecture and design, communication and media, to gender and sexuality studies, Jasmine Rault shows that Gray shared with many of her female contemporaries a commitment to designing spaces for sexually dissident modernity. This volume examines Gray's early lacquer work and Romaine Brooks' earliest nude paintings; Gray's first built house, E.1027, in relation to Radclyffe Hall and her novel The Well of Loneliness; and Gray's private house, Tempe à Pailla, with Djuna Barnes' Nightwood. While both female sexual dissidence and modernist architecture were reduced to rigid identities through mass media, women such as Gray, Brooks, Hall and Barnes resisted the clarity of such identities with opaque, non-communicative aesthetics. Rault demonstrates that by defying the modern imperative to publicity, clarity and identity, Gray helped design a sapphic modernity that cultivated the dynamism of uncertain bodies and unfixed pleasures, which depended on staying in rather than coming out.


'…redresses significant lacunae in the literature of modern architecture, modern literature, and early twentieth century studies of gender and sexual culture, while pushing the literature on Eileen Gray in very fruitful directions.' Tirza True Latimer, California College of the Arts, USA, and author of Women Together/Women Apart: Portraits of Lesbian Paris

'… certainly the most original, if not one of the most important, books on Eileen Gray published so far.' Irish Arts Review

'… [a] detailed and far-reaching study…' Arlis

'This fascinating book on Eileen Gray examines the links between the oeuvre of this Irish-born designer and architect and her ties to the lesbian culture of Paris during the early decades of the twentieth century… Eileen Gray and the Design of Sapphic Modernity is […] an extraordinary book. It is cogent, well researched, and interesting. And by addressing the issue of Gray’s lesbianism and the notion of a distinctly lesbian aesthetic, Rault has opened up new avenues of inquiry that will undoubtedly enrich future discussions of this remarkable, multifaceted artist.' The Woman’s Art Journal

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction ; Decadent perversions and healthy bodies in modern architecture; Screening sexuality: Eileen Gray and Romaine Brooks; Accommodating ambiguity: Eileen Gray and Radclyffe Hall; Not communicating with Eileen Gray and Djuna Barnes; Conclusion: staying in; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Jasmine Rault is Assistant Professor in the Women's Studies Program, Department of Communication Studies and Multimedia at McMaster University, Canada.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / Individual Artists / General