Papillon & Pâte:
Decorative Arts from the 19th Century
McCormack Gallery, March 26 - November 17, 2016
Many items in this exhibition are predecessors of the Paris Art Nouveau movement. This new and fresh movement reached the height of its popularity during the turn of the century (late 1800’s to early 1900’s). The artists of the “Young Style,” another term for Art Nouveau, were inspired by certain decorative items of the past, most notably these Japanese woodblock prints on display along the walls. Since Japan opened its borders for world trade in 1853, the Western world has benefitted from their people’s beautiful and unique art forms.
Another major influencer of the Art Nouveau movement were the organic motives applied to decorative works from the mid to late 19th century. Glass workers such as Louis Comfort Tiffany, whose company-produced works are displayed here, were inspired by nature’s organic forms, colors and lines.
In addition to many European cities, Art Nouveau also had a strong presence in America, specifically New York City and
Chicago, spanning across several areas of design such as architecture, furniture design, interior design and jewelry. Tiffany and Company, the famous decorative arts design house and now world-renowned luxury jewelers, resides in New York City.
Papillon is the French word for “butterfly” and Pâte is the French term for sculpting decorative motifs in relief (meaning, raised or carved from the surface). Metaphorically, butterflies represent the delicate intricacies and apparent fragility of these sculptures. While, Pâte is more representative of the sculptural techniques used.
With this exhibit’s focus on European and American decorative arts and their contributions to the Art Nouveau movement, we hope to give you a sense of inspiration-- the same kind artists like Vincent van Gogh and Mary Cassatt--experienced.