French Modernism: A Different Path​
​Photographs by Gordon Watkinson










French Modernism: A Different Path will explore the rich diversity of the architectural and design landscape in France from Tony Garnier’s Stade de Galande in Lyon (1919) to the seminal Maison du Peuple in Clichy by Beaudouin, Bodiansky, Lods, and Prouvé (1939). Combining a large selection of photographs of the buildings by artist/photographer Gordon Watkinson, re-editions of the furniture designed during that time, and text material by major contributors, the exhibition will offer an inclusive as well as comparative look at the period.

French Modernism: A Different Path will feature the work of some of France's most influential practitioners and theorists in the fields of architecture, urban planning, and design, such as Eugène Beaudouin, Pierre Chareau, Tony Garnier, Eileen Gray, Pierre Jeanneret, Le Corbusier, Marcel Lods, André Lurçat, Robert Mallet-Stevens, and Jean Prouvé. Alongside the photographs and floor plans of each of the buildings, the exhibition will give to the public the opportunity to (re)discover iconic examples of furniture design by Eileen Gray, René Herbst, Pierre Jeanneret, Le Corbusier, Charlotte Perriand, and Jean Prouvé in the context of interwar’s design practice in France.

Sample Photos


Gordon Watkinson

Gordon Watkinson was born in 1964 in Charlottesville, Virginia (USA). Watkinson borrowed a camera for a photography class he took at the age of 24 while attending Virginia Commonwealth University (USA). Although he had never previously thought of photography in a serious way, after completing the course his professor saw enough in his work that he encouraged Watkinson to reconsider his career choice and arranged for him to begin working as a photographic assistant. Watkinson's subsequent work as a commercial photographer spanned a broad range of clients from the fields of advertising, architecture, design and fashion. In conjunction with his photographic work he has directed commercials, made industrial vides, and worked directly with major corporations as well as specialized brands, helping them to develop visual strategies for targeted markets. 

Over the years he developed a strong sensitivity for both forms and materials, which has shaped his visual language and strengthened his fascination for holistic minimalist design. During a trip to the Bauhaus School in Dessau/Germany in the late 1990's Watkinson was introduced to the role of design as a solution to social issues. This became the catalyst for an intense and ongoing interaction with architecture, design. and urbanism. leading to a series of projects that visually and conceptually explore major architectural shifts and their relevance in today's society.

Watkinson's work has been exhibited and published internationally. In addition to his exhibitions Watkinson regularly lectures and teaches workshops in major museums and educational institutions in the USA and Europe (most notably at the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design in Oslo/Norway, and at the Bauhaus-University in Weimar/Germany). His work is in the permanent collection of the German Architecture Museum, Frankfurt/Germany and in various private collections. 

Peter Adam

Biographer of Eileen Gray

Olivier Cinqualbre

Curator of Architecture at the Centre Pompidou, Paris

Michael Richard

Director of the Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris

Raymund Ryan

Curator of the Heinz Architectural Center at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh

Wilfried Wang

O’Neil Ford Centennial Professor in Architecture at the School of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin

Further contributors to be announced.

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Preliminary Specifications


Original photographs by Gordon Watkinson (inkjets prints mounted on aluminum):
Approx. 80 – 100
Plans and maps: approx. 24
Furniture and Objects (re-editions): approx. 20
Space Requirements: 400 – 600 square meter / 4000 – 6000 square feet
Security: Limited

Participation Fee: Upon Request

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Available from January 2015

Available from January 2016 in North America

Educational Program

Foto+Synthesis offers the following educational opportunities with the photographer Gordon Watkinson: 

Telling a Story: Photography & Architecture

2 day-workshop for middle and high school students

Participants will learn how to use a series of photographs to illustrate a personal vision while developing an awareness of the local built environment.

Anatomy of a Photo Project

1 day-seminar for university photography & art students, or/and general audience

Participants will learn how to develop a photographic project, from conception through planning for its realization in book or/and exhibition form.

Guided tours of the exhibition with Gordon Watkinson

Guided tours of the exhibition with photographer Gordon Watkinson for targeted audiences (general, children, high school students, art/photography/architecture/ design students, architects, etc.)


Alexandra Le Faou


P +1 646 233 3621

F +1 212 202 4845