La Politesse de Wassermann

Laëtitia Badaut Haussmann
Maison Louis Carré / Alvar Aalto, Bazoches-sur-Guyonne (Yvelines)

From June 25 to September 3, 2017
Curators :Laurent Fiévet & Silvia Guerra
In collaboration with ÁSDÍS ÓLAFSDÓTTIR


La Politesse de Wassermann

La Politesse de Wassermann is a project devised by Laëtitia Badaut Haussmann for Maison Louis Carré by Alvar Aalto. The title is borrowed from The Atrocity Exhibition by J.G. Ballard, published in the United States in 1969. This experimental novel — a reading of which, according to its author, can also begin at the end of the book — is a journey across the American subconscious. Constructed in a fragmentary manner it is also a waking dream disguised as a nightmare.

Laëtitia Badaut Haussmann has created her own narrative for Maison Louis Carré, the home that gallery owner and collector Louis Carré commissioned for his wife Olga Carré. It’s a space in which the private and professional lives of its owner fused, from working sessions with Jean Cocteau to chess matches with Marcel Duchamp. The friendship that drew the Carrés to Alvar Aalto and his wife and collaborator Elissa Aalto allowed them to work together on the creation of a space intended as a work of total architecture and design, suited for generating an incomparable energy during the regular garden parties and receptions.

Even today the house still maintains traces of this former life: furniture, clothes, books, crockery, flasks of perfume, and so on. What is missing, however, is the Carrés’ collection, the works of art that formed an essential part of the architectural conception, most of which were sold at auction as part of Olga Carré’s estate. Yet, every now and then, it seems possible to enter the social, cultural and artistic life of the 20th century, a little like in Ballard where the puzzle is constructed through different sub-chapters.

Laëtitia Badaut Haussmann will also piece together an oeuvre through the collection of new pieces conceived in situ. Highlighting the lost symmetries of modernism and echoing the presence of the women who were the driving forces behind Aalto and Carré, the artist invokes a space peopled with ghosts and desires, to welcome 21st century visitors, haunted and confused in their turn by the poetry and memory of the space.

Laëtitia Badaut Haussmann will draw inspiration freely from Aalto’s modern architecture, literary influences – ranging from Bataille’s Story of the Eye to Paul B. Preciado’s Pornotopia, as well as J.G. Ballard, to name just a few – and from where the deviant bourgeoisie of Luis Buñuel produces a background for an exhibition of multiple reproductions in which the conceptual is not purely referential, but also articulates the physicality of a contemporary surrealism. This will be at the beginning of the summer, the pool will be sparkling, the sun will shine through the large bay windows and you will be able to access the house. The lights will be lit, music will be heard and it will be St John’s day (Juhannus, in Finnish) and the anniversary of the first reception given in honour of the Aaltos, 57 years earlier. The moment of an intersection between the stories of a past still present and a future sparkling with sighs.

Silvia Guerra, co-curator of the project



What does the Maison Louis Carré — its history, its owners, its past — evoke for you?

The Maison Louis Carré is a quintessential modernist paradigm: of taste, of class, of its backer, its architect… As an object for study it’s as dizzying as it is compelling, and it generates an ambiguous position as a historical reference point. Everything there was thought through so that ideas, art, money and networks could circulate freely during the dinners, cocktail parties and other receptions. As an aesthetic choice, this total architecture and design project created to articulate art and life is fascinating. This site accumulates several reproductions: history of art, of architecture, of design, linked to a social history of course. It’s the end of an epoch the shadows of which still occupy a considerable space today. As such, Buñuel’s The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie resonates just as well with the way in which I perceive these perfectly preserved ruins.


How much did Alvar Aaltos architecture and design inspire you in this project?

Aalto’s architecture and design have — through the choice and use of very precisely-chosen, natural materials — a candidness with the organic which is not immediate in the vocabulary of modern architecture. With this, the working dynamic that Aalto deploys via Artek — a structure originally created with his first wife, Aino Aalto (d. 1949) who had a fundamental influence on the language we would develop throughout his career — is decisive. For the Maison Carré, Elissa Aalto assumed a major role as collaborator and project supervisor. A number of women architects and designers, who were absolutely essential to the project, worked in the shadows, such as Marlaine Perrochet and Maija Heikinheimo. The community of intellect, of creativity and of production gathered around this project is a fascinating lever for understanding this architecture, and drawing stories from it.


The villas garden is also an Alvar Aalto creation, and hosted some magnificent parties over the years. You told me that you wanted to bring the past back to life at the opening.

June 24, the date of the opening, combines two vital elements: the anniversary (within two days) of the first great party that the Carrés hosted at the house, in honour of Alvar and Elissa Aalto, as well as the feast day of Saint John — Juhannus in Finnish — which is the summer solstice, something that is particularly marked in Nordic countries. As you highlighted, the garden was initially conceived to host parties. This social and festive aspect is a fundamental marker of the life of this house. The uniqueness of the invitation extended to me, linked to the social and political context in which we find ourselves, calls on our urge to gather, to be together for — and through — a collective event in this space.


How do you think the link can be established between this building dating from the end of the 1950s and contemporary creation?

In a certain way we are the grandchildren, probably illegitimate, of the generations to which Aalto, Carré and his consort belonged. There is necessarily a distortion in the reception of these stories and this epoch, a strain on the variable levels of respect, distance and rupture. We have the keys to the house for the weekend and we will always be teenagers. Because of this, it’s about exorcising a past which could seem perfect in it’s modernity, except that we have never been modern.


Designed by Alvar Aalto (1898-1976) for the art dealer and collector Louis Carré (1897-1977), this house is the only structure by the Finnish architect in France. It was completed in 1959 and the swimming pool finished in 1963. True to a fluid conception of space, and a very personal and humanist vision of modernism, Aalto was responsible for the design of the entire house, including its furniture. In accordance with Louis Carré’s wishes, the house was designed to fit in with

the gentle landscape of the surrounding Île-de-France countryside. Since its completion, it has been regarded by critics as one of Aalto’s greatest masterpieces, designed at a time when the architect was at the height of his art. The building is a prime example of a total work of art. The Maison Louis Carré has been the property of the Association Alvar Aalto in France since 2006 and is directed by Ásdís Ólafsdóttir.

Maison Louis Carré
2 chemin du Saint Sacrement
78490 Bazoches-sur-Guyonne
+33 (0)1 34 86 79 63