10 July 2014

a change of scenery

In between thesis projects I've moved to a new town!

06 May 2014

The pâte de verre and artistic glass objects of Georges Despret (1862-1952)

a little intro

This is the first post in a series on Georges Despret, a Belgian-French industrial who developed the pâte de verre technique around 1900. He's the subject of my Master's thesis at UGent, and of the technical and practical research I'm doing at Sint Lucas (now Luca School of Arts) Gent. And I'm happy to share it with you!

reconstruction of a working process

At Luca I'm piecing together how Despret might have made one of his pâte de verre bowls, by making one from scratch. I've been working in the glass and ceramics studios, so this is a hands-on type of research, figuring out how each step of his work process might have looked like. It's partly based on historical sources and contemporary research into historical pâte de verre, and partly on the process of making itself.

Georges Despret - bowl 1906 - Design Museum Ghent
Georges Despret - bowl from 1906 - Design Museum Ghent
Of course it's impossible to replicate the exact circumstances in which Despret worked - this wasn't my intention, but I reasoned that making one of his bowls could be a helpful complimentary method since there are very little historical sources left. His archives and many of his artworks were lost during the first year of World War I, when his manufacture in Jeumont (north of France) was reduced to ruins in an explosion. There he had built a museum that showed everything his manufacture was capable of, with an emphasis on the artistic glass objects. But all of that has been destroyed.

So I've based my practical research on what remains: his glass objects kept in museums all over the world, his collaborators like sculptor Yvonne Serruys and ceramics specialist Géo Nicolet; a few archival documents, some contemporary press, and recent research. Next to that I've looked at the discoveries and techniques of other pâte de verre artists, like Henry Cros (the pioneer to whom Despret looked up), Decorchemont, Argy-Rousseau and Walter.

The little (and big) parts I couldn't find an answer to anyhow, I've tried to find through experimentation, So there's a degree of hypothesis in my research I'm well aware of, but that doesn't make this project any less worthwhile. I've received great help from my teachers at Luca, UGent, the city of Jeumont and the curators of the Design Museum Gent and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. And all the librarians... :-)

This research project will become a chapter in my Master's thesis (it's due in August, so I'm still working on it), but I also wanted to give a more personal account of it,  showing you what I've been up to in the past 7 months. A bit like my studio and work in progress pictures. Thanks for reading!

a few links:

Despret on Wikipedia (in French; I'll try to make an entry about him in English & Dutch)
Despret in the collections of the Corning Museum of Glass
Mémoire vivante de Jeumont with photos of Despret's castle in ruins after WW I, close to his manufactures

further reading:

Cummings, Keith. Contemprary kiln-formed glass. Londen: A & C Black Publishers ltd, 2009. -with a chapter on Stewart's research on Amalric Walter.
Daum, Noël. La pâte de verre, Paris: Denoël, 1984 -extensive book on pdv, but needs critical reading.
Delaborde, Yves & Bloch-Dermant, Janine. Le verre: Art & Design XIX°-XXI° siècles. Courbevois: ACR Edition, 2011.
Hamaide, Frédéric (red.). De glace et de verre: Deux siècles de verre plat franco-belge (1820-2020), Fourmies: Ecomusée de l’Avesnois, 2007. -with a chapter on Despret's artistic glass by A.-L. Carré.

14 April 2014

expo: wat weeft in mij

Wat weeft in mij
anonymous Moroccan woven headscarf

Wat weeft in mij
detail of the delicate work of Saskja Snauwaert

Wat weeft in mij
Karen Santen's ceramics against a Moroccan carpet

Wat weeft in mij
woven carpet by anonymous Moroccan women

Wat weeft in mij
Tinka Pittoors

Wat weeft in mij
installation; forgot to note this artist's name

Wat weeft in mij

Wat weeft in mij
Sanne Dewolf & Christine Clinckx

Wat weeft in mij
Tamara van San

Wat weeft in mij

Wat weeft in mij

Enjoyed this wonderful exhibition at the Ververij in Ronse by women artists who weave their life into their artistic medium, whether it was weaving scarves or carpets, lace, ceramics or performance. Each medium has its own expression. The exhibition almost felt like an orchestra, with each piece adding to the sound of the whole.