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  • Inspirations

    Univers :  Ornaments

    From one ornament to another / For a long time, centuries and styles could be recognised by their ornaments alone. Ornamentation, which was a matter of architecture, was then moved on to the decorative arts and found its way into furniture, goldsmithery, ceramics and tapestry. Under the Italian influence, the Renaissance can be recognised by its cut leather, medallions, putti and bucranes from Antiquity, while under Louis XIII the ear style and the scroll cartouche motif dominated. Marked by the breadth of the shapes and the effects of symmetry, the Louis XIV style is characterised by a proliferation of fleurs-de-lis, mantling, scraps of arms and trophies. The Regency saw a general softening of forms, with linear combinations of curves and counter-curves, in the cartouche, the trophy and the shell. With the Rocaille, it is the asymmetrical, scrolled shapes of winged cartouches, acanthus leaves and country trophies that dominate, while the fashion for chinoiseries and monkeys invented a fantasy Orient.

    In Antiquity, the first Louis XVI style took up its Greek friezes, post, egg and heart grape friezes, combined with a ...
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    ... delicate, rural repertoire of ribbons, baskets and crowns. With the Egyptian campaign, the Directoire adopted sphinxes, canopies, caduceus and pyramids, the Empire is recognisable by its swans and dolphins, tripods and incense burners, its war motifs and its imperial symbols: the eagle and the bee, the star and the crowned "N". The July Monarchy will be historicist and will draw its inspiration from a national Middle Ages, the Second Empire will be eclectic and will turn towards the Renaissance, the far East, the Japan of prints and lacquers. An industrial production of objects in series, composite materials more accessible to the general public are at the origin of the small decorative object which draws on all the styles of the past.

    To finish the ornament?  Art Nouveau in France or the Arts and Crafts movements in England reacted against this pastiche of the past: the former wanted to link art and industry to make beauty accessible to all, but by drawing on new forms far from historicism, the latter wanted to return to a craftsman's know-how in the face of the production of standardised objects. At the end of the 19th century, Art Nouveau and its vegetal inspiration, then Art Deco and its return to the forms inherited from the Louis XVI style were still considered too decorative. All over Europe, voices were heard calling for a complete stripping of all traces in architecture and furnishings, from Adolf Loos to Le Corbusier. This condemnation of ornament in favour of functional architecture is as much social as it is aesthetic, and what the functionalists refuse to accept is the bad bourgeois taste, the ostentatious wealth, the lounges overflowing with drapes, the lazy copying of past centuries, the profusion of purely decorative paintings hung with touch and touch and which always present the same clichés drawn from the antique, exoticism or the genre scene.  Faced with these decorative excesses, Le Corbusier advocated retouching the walls, to leave them bare, without drapes or wallpaper.

    Art and ornaments in today's furnishings. / More than eighty years later, we can say that the condemnations of Loos and Le Corbusier have been heard and that the era of the void is still ours. In our flats, we see bare walls more often than walls stretched with wallpaper or covered with hangings, even if a return of the wallpaper is noticeable. Until under Napoleon III it was
     the prevailing upholstery art which unified the decoration. The bourgeois living room, with its obligatory ornaments, bronze statuettes, fireplace fittings, vases and various trinkets, is hardly noticeable anymore either, as is the old-fashioned hanging of the paintings. Yet the ornaments and works of art have not disappeared from our flats: they are still there, all the more precious as they are rarer, all the more visible as they are exhibited in isolation, all the more graphic as they fit into rhythmic series.

    Trompe-l'oeil, frescoes and fakes. / We notice a new taste for trompe l'oeil, frescoes, wall decorations that breaks with the uniformity of bare walls. Ornaments no longer occupy all the surfaces of a room, from inlaid parquet to coffered ceilings, and no longer fit into large vaulted decorations as in the past. é. But they are strategically placed to enlarge a room, to give the illusion of a curtain or an open window on the horizon. In this respect they are close to the art of a Mantegna in the Palazzo del Tè in Mantua. Fabienne Colin thus creates trompe-l'oeil not only to transform sections of wall into works of art, but also to animate a neutral surface or to light up a blind room. From his painted domes, like the oculus of the House of the Bride and Groom, a zenithal light seems to fall from the ceiling. Made for the ceiling of a verandah, a trellis dome will bring extra greenery; made in an entrance hall, a window open to the sky will give the illusion of space and light in a narrow corridor with no opening. Trompe-l'oeil sign a new preciousness and make it possible to push back the walls of our cramped flats. Fashion is also imitating materials to liven up a bare surface: faux wood, faux marble, faux panelling, faux drapery, wall patinas. The wallpapers of the Desfossé, Turquetil or Zuber houses, under the Second Empire, similarly played on illusionism to imitate marble and bronze, damask or capiton, they showed roses, ivy and clematis climbing up the trellises, in order to bring a rural or luxuriant nature into town houses. Although the art of upholstery no longer reigns in the rooms, decorative painted canvases are still occasionally used. Marie-Carotte's Japanese linen hangings can be used as movable partitions to create separation or simply hung on the wall. Hector Déco's hand-painted and gilded leaf designs show both botanical and animal plates and portraits inspired by the Orient or the Quattrocento. Here again, the major influence is that of a Mantegna, with a slender greyhound or a lady in profile who seems to have come out of the Palazzo del Tè.

    Mouldings, niches, pilasters, mouldings, marquetry and mosaics: poetics of the fragment. /  
    The mouldings that Le Corbusier dreamed of seeing disappear are still in favour with the public and the Haussmann-style flat remains the most popular of all. Today the moulding is exposed and repainted in pure white. Thus purified, it will be able to harmonize with stylish furniture as well as with a contemporary decor. We also like to bring old and new together and insert a pilaster on the bare walls or next to a contemporary photograph, while a column with a capital will support an abstract sculpture or a Gothic virgin. The centuries thus stand and dialogue with each other. A Corinthian capital, a rosette, a mascaron or a Greek frieze can be worth for themselves and be exhibited alone. Rodin, who highlighted the hand of a Venus, the torso of an Apollo or the foot of a Victory, taught us to see in the part the whole statue and in the fragment the whole of the ancient world. Ancient or medieval casts, rosettes, fragments of friezes, entablatures and pieces of bas-reliefs will be hung on the walls for their architectural strength. The same goes for the often costly woodwork and marquetry. A marquetry rosette, a supporting moulding or a connecting thimble in carved wood will be enough to create beautiful modenatures.

    Trophies and taxidermy  /  In the age of the standard object, curiosity cabinets and the art of taxidermists continue to fascinate. Naturalized animals make their entrance into the salon, while trophies and massacres are lined up on the walls. The most beautiful versions are undoubtedly those using poor materials, such as the creations of Marie Christophe: here is her lampala, all in finesse and strength. Animal sculptures are also prized for their evocative power, transforming the house into a Noah's Ark or an enchanted forest. Instead of small bronze or ceramic statuettes, we prefer large cardboard creations or the medium and 3D sculptures of the Compagnie des Elves, which give the bull or the reindeer an incomparable relief and strength.

    The 10th art /  Do you still hang paintings on walls in the digital and minimalist era?  Yes, say the collectors. For those who do not have the means to collect, the 10th art, which encompasses all artistic creations using digital technology as a medium, offers an alternative of choice. Thus digital prints on canvas, printed in high resolution and mounted on a wooden frame. When they are in a limited edition and are numbered and signed by the artist, they are called digigraphies. The digigraphies offered by the company 10e art or by the Plisson gallery are square in format, but often panoramic. They are of great graphic strength and are distinguished by the intensity of their colours. Finally, digital technology allows for numerous size, framing and colour options to harmonize with the surrounding decor. The other revolution in terms of decoration is that of the LED. Sculptures are as luminous as they are illuminated from the inside: for example, Clémentine de La Tour's "Eclipse" sculpture, which seems to fix the precise moment when the sun is momentarily obscured by the moon. LEDs also enhance the brilliance of the materials. It gives the creations of the ceramist Ariane Artignan-Coissieux an incomparable brilliance and recreates for a porcelain shell sculpture the iridescence of mother-of-pearl. 

    One would look in vain, as in past centuries, for a coherent decorative repertoire of symbols and motifs that distinguish our times. Ornament has not disappeared, it remains present in the form of quotation, reminiscence, homage or diversion and signs a new taste for precious materials, while digital and LEDs create new images and other axes of light. 

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