Les Dés Sont Jetés
Les Dés Sont Jetés
29 March 2016

A magnificent tapestry commissioned more than 50 years ago has finally found its rightful place in the Sydney Opera House, thanks to a University of Queensland researcher’s academic detective work.

The UQ School of Architecture’s Associate Professor Antony Moulis was in Sydney (today) when the tapestry, designed by Swiss-French architect and urbanist Le Corbusier, was unveiled.

“I’m absolutely delighted that my research has played a part in bringing this tapestry to the Opera House,” Associate Professor Moulis said.

The Les Dés Sont Jetés (The dice are cast) tapestry was part of Opera House architect Jørn Utzon’s vision for the interior of the building, but was never purchased by the Opera House, and few people even realised it had been commissioned.

Dr Moulis confirmed its existence and eventually identified its location, in the Utzon family home in Europe – while researching personal letters between Jørn Utzon and Le Corbusier.

“A set of letters and receipts showed that the two had met about the commission and that Le Corbusier had worked on the art project,” Dr Moulis said.

“It took me some time to confirm where the work had gone, or even if it had been completed.

“I discovered that Le Corbusier had produced the tapestry as part of a commission of art work for the Sydney Opera House after coming across an image of the tapestry in a monograph publication.

“When I saw the tapestry, which at the time hung in the Utzon’s family home, I saw in it figurative elements that I believe came from drawings of the Opera House that Utzon gave to Le Corbusier.

“It was then that I realised I’d found a work that few people knew even existed.

Dr Moulis said Jørn Utzon commissioned the artwork, which he bought alongside other works by Le Corbusier, but he was ultimately thwarted in his plan to incorporate it in the Opera House project.

Utzon left Sydney in 1966 in a storm of controversy, with the building incomplete.

“It was an amazing experience to eventually identify the tapestry so many years later,” Dr Moulis said.

“It’s a rare but tangible link to Utzon’s early vision of the Opera House interiors, which makes it a really significant cultural asset for Sydney and the nation.

“My research of the tapestry is certainly ongoing and its discovery promises to change the way we understand the relationship between Utzon and Le Corbusier – two of the greatest architects of the twentieth century.

The Sydney Opera House Trust has bought the 6.5m square wool tapestry for permanent display in the Opera House.

Opera House CEO Louise Herron said the tapestry would serve as a reminder of the building’s roots.

“It will be a source of daily inspiration for us all, as it was for the Utzons,” Ms Herron said.

“We are profoundly grateful to the passionate philanthropists who have enabled this very special acquisition for the Australian public.”

Media: Fiona McAlpine, f.mcalpine@uq.edu.au, +61 7 3365 3861; Antony Moulis, a.moulis@uq.edu.au, +61 7 3365 4010; Matthew Moore, Sydney Opera House, +61 2 9250 7277, 0431 050 963.