Elina Brotherus, Maison Carré, Alvar Aalto
Maison Louis Carré, ©Elina Brotherus, Gymnastique

Maison Carré near Paris, by photographer Elina Brotherus

‘Les femmes de la Maison Carré’ exhibition inside a late 1950s home by Alvar Aalto

Fine art photographer Elina Brotherus went to imagine life at Maison Louis Carré, the French art collectors home designed by Alvar Aalto. The series has been part of an exhibition at the house, which is now open for the public near Paris.

Elina Brotherus, Maison Carré, Alvar Aalto
©Elina Brotherus, Vestiaire

How did your photography project at Maison Carré come about?

I know the director of Maison Louis Carré, Asdis Olafsdottir, since more than 15 years. When she started to organize contemporary art exhibitions in the house she contacted me to ask if I was interested in exhibiting my work there. It particularly makes sense to show artworks in the house because Louis Carré was an art dealer and collector and the house is designed to display art.  So when Asdis proposed that I do a show at Maison Carré, I thought it would be a nice ‘clin d’oeil’ to include one photograph that would be made in the house. We organized a 3-day mini-residency last May: the guide picked me up from the train, dropped me off at the house, showed me the bed linen, the kitchen, the bedrooms and went her way. The house is awesome. I had never been there before and it was truly amazing to have it for myself for three days. I did the work of three months in three days. It was very inspiring. My goal was to get one good picture but I ended up having a series of 15 photos. I entitled the series ‘Les Femmes de la Maison Carré’. 

Elina Brotherus, Maison Carré, Alvar Aalto
©Elina Brotherus, Piscine

What was it like working in that building, was there something specific that you wanted to capture?

I didn’t know what to expect and I had no preconceived ideas. I had just packed a suitcase of clothes. When there, all the spaces were so beautiful I just wanted to put my characters in them. I played a bunch of different women who arose from what I saw and what I had brought along (in my suitcase). I worked as fast as I could from early morning till midnight and still ran out of time, I could have continued for another week, there were so many possible photographs. 

Elina Brotherus, Maison Carré, Alvar Aalto
©Elina Brotherus, Salon part 1

Did this photographic project make you think differently about what is special in Aalto’s architecture?

We live most of the time in very mediocre architectural spaces. We are so used to mediocrity that only the very good or the very bad immediately stand out. I have always known Aalto’s work because I’m from Finland. But what is different when living in a building from just visiting it is that you can really observe how the architect has dealt with time and space. I really have to give credit to Aalto. The way the sun moves through different rooms throughout the day makes it a true pleasure to live in the house. One can feel that this is not by chance but Aalto has payed attention to it. Louis Carré worked in Paris during the day so he wanted to have evening light in the salon when he comes home. This is just one detail. I was following the good light from room to room with the rotating sun.  

Elina Brotherus, Maison Carré, Alvar Aalto
©Elina Brotherus, Salle à manger

We often see you facing nature in your works. Was it different working in an architectural space?

I have worked with interiors too, although I might be more known for the work done outdoors. I wouldn’t mind doing another series of some other iconic building. You can pass my name on to other directors (haha)


Maison Louis Carré 

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