Thierry Dreyfus defies easy categorisation. There’s the work he's made his name for; producing runway shows for houses like Yves Saint-Laurent and Comme des Garçons. Then there are the large-scale light installations, like those he did on the Eiffel Tower in 2008 and in Notre Dame in 2010. But in his Paris studio, removed from the spectacle of orchestrating fashion extravaganzas and transforming global landmarks, Dreyfus crafts material – and light – with the quiet introspection of an artist.
'The Art of Light', an exhibition at New York's Atelier Courbet, draws from this section of Dreyfus’s body of work, including domestic-scaled pieces, many of which have never been shown outside of his own studio. The now-iconic ‘Hommage’ table sits at the gallery’s center, surrounded by smaller lamps and objets d’art. Four ‘Virgule’ lamps – each made with a different material – point to the subtle relationship between light and material, and the Brâncuși-esque ‘Lamp B’ seems as much of a sculpture as it is a lighting fixture.
Further uptown on 135 West 52nd Street, the developers of a 47-story residential tower commissioned Dreyfus to make a permanent lighting installation on the building’s facade – which he did as a thin vertical strip whose light pulsates at the frequency of a resting heart rate. 'Maybe this will help slow people down,' he remarks. The exhibition at Atelier Courbet also includes a pair of sconces he created for that project, ‘Lamp 52nd', that mimic the building’s form and diffuse light through translucent marble panels.
Many of the objects Drefyus included in ‘The Art of Light’ were not initiated through a design commission, but rather with his own curiosity about form and beauty. 'Every evening, I stand in front of the mirror to brush my teeth, and I always ask myself, "Did I really live today?,"' he says, citing his drive to discover new ways of finding beauty. 'I need to experience beauty every day.'