Saturday, August 3, 2013

Paris Journal: Gobelins par Nature, Eloge de la Verdure - Lurcat and friends

It is now August and Paris shuts down for summer vacation. Since the amazing exhibit at the Gobelins gallery is shuttered this month for the "vacance", I am posting a few photos here to whet appetites to see the show when it reopens September 2. 

The show runs until January 19, 2014, so there is still plenty of time to catch a flight to Paris before it closes. This is truly one of the most extensive and impressive exhibits of tapestries in the Mobilier National (French national collection). I was so fortunate to have happened upon it on our trip to Paris in May/June. The gallery is free on the last Sunday of every month.

The show includes works evoking the theme of "verdure", a word which originates from Old French and is defined as "greenness". The exhibit is broken up into six "variations" on this theme: "Feuillage de verdure", "Fleurs", "Saisons", "Constance", "Mille Flore" and "Jardins".

Apologies in advance for the photo quality. The gallery allowed photos, but without flash and the lighting in some areas of the large space was iffy. But photos are photos, so enjoy!

It's hard to get more green than the tapestries designed by Jean Lurcat. His spring, summer and winter seasons tapestries woven between 1941 and 1946 are featured in the show. Lurcat and his contemporaries Jean Picart-Le Doux and Pierre Pothier designed specifically for tapestry, limiting their color palettes and forgoing perspective. Sometimes considered quite mannered, these works stand alone in their vivid and fantastical imagery.

The gallery was staged like a park with vine and flower garlands and park chairs.

Tenture des Saisons: L'Ete, Jean Lurcat, Aubusson tapestry, 1941, wool, H: 3.35 m x  L: 4.85 m.

Tenture des Saisons: L'Ete, detail.

Tenture des Saisons: L'Ete, detail.

Tenture des Saisons: L'hiver, Jean Lurcat, Aubusson tapestry, 1941, wool, H: 3.25 m x  L: 4.85 m.

Tenture des Saisons: L'hiver, detail.

Tenture des Saisons: Le Printemps, Jean Lurcat, Aubusson tapestry, 1941, wool, H: 3.52 m x  L: 4.78 m.

Second floor gallery with Jean Picart Le Doux's Nature morte a la fontaine, wool,  H: 2.54 m x  L: 3.90 m, background and Les Saisons au Jardin, a wool Savonnerie carpet by Jacques Despierre , 4.05 m x 6.05 m foreground.

Nature morte a la fontaine, detail.

Nature morte a la fontaine, detail.

Nature morte a la fontaine, detail.

The large gallery space showed the vast size of the tapestries to their advantage. Some tapestries were hung between columns and used as room dividers. This gave the opportunity to see the backside of the tapestries. A treat (or horror "oh, those floats!") for many weavers.

Nature morte a la fontaine, back of tapestry detail.

La grande veneuse,  Pierre Pothier, Gobelins tapestry, wool, H: 2.58 m x L: 2.98 m

La grande veneuse, detail.

Rabbit border, La grande veneuse, detail.

More rabbit border from La grande veneuse.

Nice background with lettering from La grande veneuse.

Every inch of this tapestry  is filled with something...lettering, millefleurs, fantastic characters,
La grande veneuse has it all in a unique and striking grayed colorway with the deepest burgundy and ecru.

Garlanded, gilt ram banister leading up to the second floor gallery.

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