This desk belonged to the architect and designer Hector Guimard, a leading proponent of French Art Nouveau. He conceived it as part of a larger harmonious ensemble, a work of art that embraced every aspect of the interior. Like many artists of his generation, Guimard looked to the natural world to revitalize modern forms, stating, "For construction, do not the branches of the trees, the stems, by turns rigid and undulating, furnish us with models?" Such aesthetic principles informed his designs in various materials, on scales ranging from handcrafted jewelry to the serial production of ceramic fireplaces and the exuberant cast-iron entrance gates for the Paris Métro, one of which is on view in the Sculpture Garden.
Gallery label from Shaping Modernity: Design 1880-1980, December 23, 2009–July 25, 2010 .