Spotlight On: ‘Sables Brûlants’
Each reflecting on their own interpretation of their medium of choice, crystal, eight distinct crafts(wo)men present the results of their residency-time at Cristallerie Saint-Louis with Fondation d’enterprise Hermès.
Since 2010, the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès has invited visual artists to discover the exceptional, skilled practice of artisans at Hermès workshops across France as part of their Artists’ Residencies programme. As part of this programme, the eight creative artists who had been selected to work at the Cristallerie Saint-Louis in recent years are now the centre of their own exhibition titled ‘Sables Brulants’ or ‘Burning Sands’ in English. This Cristallarie, in particular, has a longstanding history dating back to 1586, where day after day, fine crystal wares are worked and signed by master glassmakers and cutters that are recognised as Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (among the finest exponents of their art in France). Each ware leaving the Cristallerie are custodians of a unique, irreplaceable tradition of expertise, enriched down the generations: Saint-Louis crystal is blown, shaped and decorated entirely by hand, using 24-carat gold or platinum.
Alongside their 500 year traditions, the Cristallerie Saint-Louis is surrounded and framed by the mountains and primal forests of the Vosges — plunging the selected artists (Atsunobu Kohira, DH McNabb, Emmanuel Régent, Guillaume Dénervaud, Lucia Bru, Marie-Anne Franqueville, Oliver Beer and Olivier Sévère) into the unique atmosphere of the foundry and workshops. Here, they receive a ‘carte blanche’: free to explore new creative directions in any way they wish. Each artist is invited for an initial immersion of several weeks, working alongside artisans to acquire an understanding of the highly specialist world of crystal-making. After their initial meeting, each artist devises a unique project, born of the encounter between their own practice and the master glass-workers’ technical expertise. Created in situ, the resulting works draw on wide-ranging experiments with the medium of crystal; its infinite possibilities, its vocabulary, and its limitations — all while addressing their individual fascinations and themes of choice.
Whether it be focusing on the mystery of time, light in its different states, the history of art, the relation between ecology and science fiction, matter and space, the inherent defence in the female body, the perception and materialisation of sound and/or the geological history of matter — each work in the exhibition marks the spot where two skills intersect: the mastery of raw material and its transfiguration. The resulting exhibition, on view at La Grande Place (Musée du Cristal Saint-Louis), gives space not only to the dedication that each of these singular artists has contributed to their crystal material but to Hermes’ now decade-long push to stimulate the creative imagination of its participating artists and artisans.
“Sables Brûlants” is on view at La Grande Place, Musée du Cristal Saint-Louis, until March 1st 2021.