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The French Union of Modern Artists


The French Union of Modern Artists (French: Union des artistes modernes; UAM) was a movement made up of decorative artists and architects founded in France on 15 May 1929 and active until 1959.

Initially made up of around 20 dissidents of the Société des Artistes-Décorateurs (SAD) and led by Robert Mallet-Stevens, the UAM offered a strong and militant alternative to the SAD. Motivated towards making a clean break from the past and struggling against objects in style, artists of the union proclaimed 'We must rise up against everything that looks rich, against whatever is well made, and against anything inherited from grandmother...impose will where habit is not invoked...overcome the habit of the eyes'. Young makers of jewellery joined the union with aims to create works of art in their field through the use of less expensive materials, making it more accessible than the current trend of expensive bijoux blancs.

UAM members participated annually in the Salon d'Automne with an exhibit created by 'The Group', and emphasized design over decoration. Interiors were designed to function with concrete, steel and glass architecture and furniture made of metallic structures was arranged within, without additional decoration. Their message was amplified through various shows and manifesto's (its first in 1934 'For Modern Art as a Frame for Contemporary Life') and activity peaked at the 1937 World's Fair in Paris where Francis Jourdain's rationalist work was displayed in his interior design for A Workers Home; Marcel Gascoin's storage and organization capabilities were displayed in his library exhibit; Charlotte Perriand exhibited folding chairs with steel tubing; and Jean Prouvé introduced one of the first chairs constructed with the new material - Plexiglas.



  • Museo degli argenti (Florence, Italy); Marilena Mosco (2001). L'Arte del gioiello e il gioiello d'artista dal '900 ad oggi = The art of jewelry and artists' jewels in the 20th century. (1. ed.). Firenze: Giunti. p. 150. ISBN . 
  • Bony, Anne (2003). Furniture and interiors of the 1940's. Paris: Flammarion. pp. 112 & 146. ISBN . 
  • Arlette, Barré-Despond (1986). UAM: Union des Artistes Modernes. Paris. p. 573. ISBN . 
  • Les Années UAM 1929-58. Catalogue of an exhibition organised at Musée des arts décoratifs 27 September 1988 to 29 January 1989. Paris: Union centrale des arts décoratifs. 1988. ISBN . 
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