Monday, November 18, 2013

Lalique - the art, the artist and ....the moon

Brooch by Rene Lalique

 It is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words.
And in the case of Rene Lalique's work - no words can really describe the exquisite beauty of his art pieces.
this is also one of the cases where it is worth going beyond admiring the art and realize the greatness of the artist.

Rene Lalique was a rare individual: he possessed the ability to pursue and excel in two distinct careers, initially as an exclusive jewelry designer and later as the creator of stunning commercial glassware. - this is how Eric Knowles starts his review of Lalique.


Even more remarkable, is the fact that Lalique's career spanned two artistic periods - the Art Nouveau and the Art Deco - and while he remained loyal to his famous 3 'F' inspiration sources (fauna, flora and female) - his designs evolved and were at the leading edge of both artistic styles.

A gold enamel and opal wooded landscape plaque
inset with diamonds
Above and beyond these facts, there are two things which make Lalique a very unique artist.

The first one is his ability to innovate and reinvent the fundamental assumptions of both jewelry and glass arts.
Just think about it for a moment:
Would it occur to you to value a painting based on the price of the paint and canvass used to create it? Sounds silly, right?
But in the jewelry domain, what is more obvious than to price the piece based on the material it's made of?

Lillies of the valley,
horn, gold, opaque enamel on gold hair comb. 
Lalique challenged this concept.
While he used gold and diamonds in his creations, he loved semiprecious stones, in particular Opals.

He used enamel, glass and bronze in his jewelry pieces - and created a new standard for judging a piece's worth -
the artistic merit rather than the materials used.

Jewelry becomes Art, not just decorative art.

His innovations in the jewelry field included the use of non-traditional materials, for example horn, as well as technical innovations such as its transparent enamel technique - 'plique-a-jour'.

Which brings me to the second reason I admire Lalique's genius.

The kiss. Brooch in silver and pressed glass.
Swans vase. Blown glass in silver mount.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Lalique mastered two distinct mediums. To most of us, there is very little in common between metal and glass, but let's take a closer look.
Enamel is a vitreous material, basically glass powder.
Lalique's work with glass, started when he perfected his Enamel technique. At some point he started incorporating sculpted glass pieces in his jewelry.
But his innovative mind did not stop there.
He mastered the lost wax technique used in jewelry from antiquity, and applied it to glass - producing vases with unbelievable detail - not really achievable in any other way.
Remember the Opals he loved? - He experimented until he achieved the same type of opalescent effect in glass making use of the interplay between light and the glass transparency

Peacock bodice front. Gold, enamel, opal and brilliants

While there are quite a few artists that mastered more than one medium - take geniuses like Michelangelo as an example - few were able to blend them in such an innovative and creative way.  

Bacchantes. Lalique's famous sculpted glass vase
Two peacocks table lamp. Glass.

Hunt centerpiece, glass

One of Lalique's famous perfume bottles. Another innovation
as until his time, you would buy perfume in plain bottles and
pour it into your decorative bottle.
Are you familiar with the saying:

"Shoot for the moon and if you miss, you will still be among the stars" ?

Well, if there was even an artist I would set as "my" moon - this would be Lalique.

And the stars in this case, are still very far away - but definitely a worthy target.

This post was inspired by a long weekend my husband and I spent in France recently.
While the official reason for this trip was a family wedding, some of its highlights were seeing Lalique's work.

If you are in France, go see the 'Museum des Art Decoratifs' in Paris as well as Lalique's Museum in Wingen-sur-Moder.

Here are the relevant links:
This is the museum in Paris:
This is Lalique museum in Alsace region:

Suzanne. An opalescent statuette, fitted for illumination

Hope you enjoyed the read,
bye for now

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