Flower Forms and Glass Specimens

Octavia Zhou

Website Link: artglasses.squarespace.com; Passcode: galle

This website aspires to provide a multimedia experience and a thematic study of the French artist and designer Emile Gallé, who is known primarily for his decorative glass objects. The viewers are greeted by a lock page whose background feature’s Gallé’s signature, while the background features a video recording the making process of art glass.

Gallé’s artistic practice was greatly influenced by his passionate study of the natural world and I wanted my website to convey the labyrinthine quality of the world filled with plants, animals, and insects that one encounters in Gallé’s art glasses. At the same time, the website is structured by four themes: Oriental Influences, Imaginative Fleurs du Mal, Signatures, and Specimen.

In the “Oriental Influences” section, I explore the influence of Islamic enameled glass and Chinese cameo glass, and East Asian motifs on Gallé’s work. To make that experience more immersive, I included some traditional Arabic music, filmed by the Met Museum, so that readers could get a taste of the Islamic and Turkish cultures that Gallé would have encountered filtered through French Orientalism. The “Imaginative Fleurs du Mal” section explores Gallé’s writings on art in relation to the natural world. This section is filled with his poetic writings and drawings. I also included a video, shot from a drone, of the city of Nancy, France, where Gallé lived and created many of his glasses. The “Signatures” section explores the significance of the inclusion of Gallé’s signature on his glass objects. In this section, I also compared Gallé to the American designer Louis Tiffany, in that both regarded glass as fine art medium that could be equivalent to painting and sculpture. The last section considers Gallé’s glasses as “Specimens,” exploring how the artist’s vases portrayed life and death using different methods: the life cycle of flowers, insects making nests and pollinating, inscriptions on the vases relating to the passage of time or the death of stars.