Those who know Hungarian-born modernist Marcel Breuer for his Bauhaus-style chairs will take special delight in a new documentary by James Crump featuring the hard-living Connecticut neighbours who embraced him.

Breuer‘s Bohemia visits midcentury Litchfield, where Rufus Stillman and Andrew Gagarin commissioned competing modernist homes in an area dominated by Greek Revivals. Stillman’s, a horizontal revolution in glass and steel, had cantilevered porches and a panelled mural in De Stijl colour by Alexander Calder. Gagarin requested a more neutral design with bluestone walls supporting vast terraces bordered in steel. Both enjoyed wide-open interiors with quiet corners for private moments.

Yet the two families shook up the inherent calmness of that backdrop with legendary cocktail-fuelled parties where guests would strip down by the pool and celebrities like Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller dropped by to join in the fun. The social whirl took its toll on the families and the wider neighbourhood, however elegantly. Crump’s feature-length film, reports from the fray.

An accompanying monograph, out today, covers the saga in print, with irresistible photos of an all-star cast and their louche New England idyll. Breuer himself features mid-picnic with Stillman, who continued his patronage for decades.

Gagarin House I (1957), west facade, Litchfield, Connecticut. Courtesy Summitridge Pictures and The Monacelli Press. All rights reserved.
Gagarin House II (1974), view of west elevation, Litchfield, Connecticut. Courtesy Summitridge Pictures and The Monacelli Press. All rights reserved.
Stillman House I, west facade, Litchfield, Connecticut, 1951. Courtesy Summitridge Pictures and The Monacelli Press. All rights reserved.
Rufus and Leslie Stillman at the Breuer Cottage, Wellfleet, Massachusetts, 1952. Courtesy Summitridge Pictures and The Monacelli Press. All rights reserved.
Stillman House I, east facade, Litchfield, Connecticut, 1951. Courtesy Summitridge Pictures and The Monacelli Press. All rights reserved.
Alexander and Louisa Calder, Roxbury, Connecticut, 1950s. Courtesy Summitridge Pictures and The Monacelli Press. All rights reserved.
Stillman House II, south facade, Litchfield, Connecticut, 1966. Courtesy Summitridge Pictures and The Monacelli Press. All rights reserved.

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