15 November 2012

Suzanne Lalqiue-Haviland: More Than The Sum Of Her Names

"The success of an object does not come only from the quality of the décor itself, but above all the way in which it adapts to the form it is intended for.”  - Suzanne Lalique-Haviland

When your father is a famous glass designer and you marry a man with an iconic name in ceramics like Haviland, pity the artist who is a woman.   The unspoken, unacknowledged quota that limits the space allotted in our historical memory does to women what the Cheshire Cat did to himself,  fading from view right before our eyes.  Who knows how many copies exist of Rene Lalique's glass figurine of his daughter  Suzanne or whether  viewers recognize her, an artist appropriated by another artist. (see photo above)
In 1911,  then thirty-one year old Suzanne Lalique-Haviland began to design complete architectural décors.   Her youth and a desire to break out of the  Lalique orbit of l'art nouveau were reasons enough to explore art's contemporary –isms, fauvism, cubism, primitivism, etc.

Once established on her own, Suzanne  did collaborate with her father  in 1920 on the project for the Salon de conversation on the ocean liner Paris Transatlantic.  She designed textiles for Tassinari et Chatel, Prelle; the company still manufactures the fabric Branche de prunus which she designed for the liner.
Suzanne's fabric designs are often playful and witty takes on familiar objects but her work seldom displays the preciousness seen in the drawings of Georges Barbier.  L’art nouveau style continued to be popular with graphic artists for years after it was superseded by what – in retrospect – was dubbed Art Deco.

For Suzanne Lalique-Haviland, personally and for the firms that shared her last names, the Exposition universelle des Arts decoratifs et industriels, held in Paris in 1925 and planned for more than a decade, was a triumph of French design.   Suzanne designed works for both the Lalique and Sevres pavilions, but it was her mural for the great hall at  Sevres, with its quixotic mixture of fruits and flowers that won unanimous praise.

In 1928,  Compagnie internationale des Wagons-lit hired Maison Lalique to design new décors for its trains on the Côte d’Azur Express.  Suzanne designed an exquisite Pullman coach paneled with  inlaid floral bouquets dusted  in silver and glass paste.  She took great pains  in choosing  hers color for the paste: white paste porcelain, celadon or ivory shades.  Commissions from the Parisian Hotel Georges V and New York's Waldorf-Astoria followed.  This may be the right place to note that Lalique-Haviland's designs avoid the preciousness that marred the work of some of her contemporaries, that was the legacy of fading Art Nouveau.  But it was also made easier by her avoidance of human figures in her work which dated the works of Georges Barbier and Jean Dunand.

Haviland named Creole, a dinnerware pattern designed with asymmetrically placed dots with a surprising pink bow in the center, as one of her favorites.  It neatly combines aspects of her work in its blend of abstraction and verisimilitude, its freshness (her willingness to cover more of the plate to make a bolder impression) and her interest in other cultures.

An extended tour of Morocco in 1930 inspired Lalique-Haviland to create jars vases with evocative names like Marrakesh and Moroccan.  Her husband Paul had a collection of Asian art and her father-in-law collected African art, both common pastimes among the French bourgeoisie.  Suzanne searched farther afield, studying Aztec art, for the stylized markings of Lagamar, an impressive work that balances triangular markings with diagonals and horizontal rows with the aplomb of a three-dimensional art.  In fact, her grandfather Auguste Lebreu, had been a sculptor.  She also confounded, once again, the conventional expectation in relation to her famous father, that a woman's style would be more delicate and less emphatic. 

Musée Lalique opened on July 1, 2011. It presented the first  Suzanne Lalique-Haviland retrospective  in France . Through a series of revealing  juxtapositions her daring finished works  and framed drawings and gouaches make plain that she was the creator of  works, known and admired, but never before acknowledged to be hers. 

The exhibition Suzanne Lalique-Haviland: Le decor reinvente appeared from July 13, 2012-November 11, 2012 at Musee Lalique in Wingen-sur-Moder, France.
Visit Musee Lalique online.

Photographs courtesy of La Tribune d'Art, Paris. 
Design for Bengali dinner service, Musee des Arts-deocratifs, Paris.
Parasole, gouache, ca. 1920, Musee des Arts-decoratifs, Paris. 
Three panel screen with fruits and flowers, Musee Lalique, Wingen-sur-Moden.
Creole pattern dinnerware for Haviland et Cie, 1931, Musee Lalique, Wingen-sur-Moder.
Lagamar Vase, ca. 1925, Musee Lalique, Wingen-sur-Moder.
Designs for a new production of Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, 1951, Musee Lalique, Wingen-sur-Mopder.


violetta said...

Such talent is humbling and timeless in quality. Thank you.

Jane said...

Her work deserves to be much better known. There's room for more than one Lalique.