French designer Emile Gallè (1846-1904), is considered to be one of the leading driving forces behind the Art Nouveau movement. His naturalistic designs incorporated with innovative techniques makes him one of the pioneering glass makers of the late 19th, early 20th century. Taking his inspiration from nature and plants along with a heavy Japanese feel it is no wonder the French have been known to describe his work as “poetry in glass” and across the globe collectors are willing to pay premium prices just to own an example of this talented iconic designers masterpieces.
A great many objects of Japanese arts made their way to Europe during the second half of the 19th century through various means: some came with diplomats returning home from Japan, others were displayed at the World Expositions held in London and Paris, and so on. Elements of these arts were quickly adopted into local arts and culture creating the phenomenon dubbed "Japonisme". The influences were seen in painting, sculpture, ceramics, glass works and architecture, and eventually spread from Europe to the United States.
The works of Emile Gallé, one of the leading glass artists of the late nineteenth century, were no exception: the influence of Japanese arts can be seen in his works in myriad forms. Gallé began working in glass when Japonisme was at its height of popularity. Throughout his lifetime, he devoted himself in deepening his means artistic expression and maintained strong ties to Japanese art. Observing Gallé's passion, a contemporary critic once commented, One has to appreciate this irony of fate: being born Japanese in Nancy.
The exhibition will explore the ways in which Gallé discovered, incorporated and transformed Japanese arts found in Europe. The developments in Japonisme seen in Gallé's works will be presented through his own works, other contemporary arts and crafts, and the Japanese arts that influenced them.