The Kitazawa Museum of Art in Suwa, Nagano prefecture, is holding a special exhibition to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of its opening. Emile Gallé (1846-1904), a glass artist active in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, incorporated flowers, plants, insects, and other natural motifs in his designs. He won the Grand Prix at the 1889 and 1900 Paris Expos and gave birth to the style defining that new age, the style we now call Art Nouveau. Gallé, a horticultural enthusiast and botanist, sought an approach through which he not only reproduced the appearance of plants and insects faithfully but also expressed their vibrancy as living beings. The influence of Japonisme, which was a vigorous trend in Europe at that time, can be seen as the background to the development of his way of viewing nature. Urbanization was advancing, due to the Industrial Revolution, and people’s lifestyles were losing richness and charm. In that context, Gallé hoped to recover the healing and peace that nature brings.
For this fortieth anniversary exhibition, our key world is the favorite phrase that Gallé presented at the entrance to his studio: “Ma racine est au fond du bois” (My roots are deep in the woods). Through the superb Art Nouveau works in the the Kitazawa Museum of Art collection, we explore Gallé’s ardent passion for nature.