Henry Baronnet-Frugès was a succesfull businessman in Bordeaux. He went bankrupt during the financial crisis of 1929. He is best-known as the first developer who asked Le Corbusier already in 1924 to adapt his utopic ideas in the creation of a garden city with standardized, cheap lodging. Frugès remained passionate about art, painting and music during all his life.
About Henry Baronnet-Frugès
Bordeaux 1879 – 1974 Bordeaux
Also known as Henry Frugès.
Captain of industry in and around Bordeaux where he possessed a sugar refinery, a sawmill and an import company of colonial products.
He was passionate about arts and music and he was an amateur painter (watercolours and gouache). Henry’s father had been strongly interested into photography, his grandfather into paintings and engravings.
Henry went bankrupt during the 1929 crisis, sold his companies and his town palace in Bordeaux and moved first for three years to Tunesia, divorced his wife and moved to Algeria, where he lived at first in a tent, later in a farm, in the NE of the French colony at the foot of the Aurès Mountains. Here he even composed an ‘Arabic’ opera, for which he also designed the costumes and the stage decorations. He returned to France after the independance of Algeria in 1962. He lived until his death in 1974 in Camblanes near Bordeaux in the region of the Entre-Deux-Mers. He continued painting, writing and composing music.
Henry’s device was ‘beter fail sometimes with one’s companies, than to risk nothing’.
He had been passionate about modernity and contemporary art:
- between 1913 and 1927 the architect Pierre Ferret supervised numerous local artists who decorated his newly aquired house (dating from 1878) in Bordeaux in an unconventional,eclectic taste, a synthetic style of Art Nouveau and of Art Deco.
- In 1924 he asked the young architect and urban planner Le Corbusier (1887 – 1965) to build economic social housing for his worksmen in Lège and in Pessac.
Having just bought the local sawmill in Lège Cap Ferret, Henry Frugès asked in 1924 Le Corbusier to build six small houses, a collective building and a court to play Basque pelota. This inital project was followed the same year by a much more important one in Pessac for a ‘garden city’ of 135 houses of which 53 were built: a modular system in which standardized parts were combined. A few years later Frugès decided to quit the program for its lack of success and because due to the stock exchange cirsis the prices of the houses had been multiplicated by four. In and around Bordeaux the Cité Frugès was nick-named ‘le rigolarium de Frugès’, after the french verb ‘rigoler’, to laugh. Still, thanks to Frugès Le Corbusier was able to realise for the first time his utopic ideas of cheap, rational, but comfortable industrial building of serial housing: ‘low-cost’ and quickly built houses with reinforced concrete.
About our painting
During his stay in Burdeau in Algeria Frugès wrote in 1946 a strong pamphlet of 23 pages against the contemporary abstract art of Picasso and of Bracque. The booklet was printed in Algiers and for sale for 50 French Francs … at the author’s farm in Burdeau. It was entitled ‘La Ballade Diabolique des Pics et de Braques suivie de la Picabracomanie’. Frugès stated in the second part that he favours figurative art with a harmonious, well-balanced and colourful composition.
In this original composition Frugès links colours to musical notes. When Frugès had invited Le Corbusier to build social houses both men were also active as painters and they linked in their project in Pessac facade colours with the suggestion of nature (green standing for the surrounding forrest, blue for the sky) and of specific physiological effects (exciting, sedative or even irritating).
Why should you buy this painting?
Because it testifies of the link between Le Corbusier and Frugès, who had agreed about the use of colour in their mutual project in Pessac.