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Ecole de Nancy house

Cutural Heritage: Nancy (France)

Ecole de Nancy centenary in the Art Nouveau capital city, 1999

Agence de développement et d'urbanisme de l'aire urbaine nancéienne

Cultural Heritage
Art Nouveau is one of the biggest moments of Lorraine's artistic history.
After the defeat of the war of 1870, Nancy acquired city borders and developed, thanks to contribution of the strength of the annexed territories, a national and international economic, scientific and intellectual reputation. It is in this framework that the beginnings of an ornamental style in the years 1880-1890 occurred: Art Nouveau. Under Emile Gallé's decisive influence, who was the head of a ceramic and glassware family firm and was the initiator of the movement and the dominant figure for about ten years. The artists drew their inspiration from nature, in particular from the flora of Lorraine. In 1901, he was joined by Louis Majorelle and Eugène Vallin in the field of furniture, Antonin and Auguste Daum in glassware and Jacques Grüber in the field of the civil stained glass art. They created the grouping 'Ecole de Nancy'.
In the early years of the century, this style which related architecture and different ornamental elements, became prevalent in the buildings erected within the context of the modernization of the town centre (such as banks, restaurants etc.) and a large part of the city for a very long time. This style is relieved in trade circles and notably by the Corbin family which possessed important shops in Nancy and was an effective agent of Art Nouveau. At the same time, thanks to Emile Gallé, l'Ecole de Nancy made the change from luxury to standard products in large numbers possible. By giving an artistic quality to the manufactured objects, the creators of l'Ecole de Nancy sealed the union between art and industry.
In Nancy Art Nouveau was undergoing alternately fascination and revulsion and found new favour in France in the years 1959 and 1960 with the Parisian-entitled exhibition "to the sources of the 20th century".

The year of l'Ecole de Nancy
Following Nancy's initiative, the year Ecole de Nancy, the occasion of its centenary, had as its objective to make people who live in Nancy rediscover a rich heritage sometimes forgotten, making it an object of pride in its identity.
This event was realized in collaboration and with the support of the urban community of Nancy, department of Meurthe et Moselle, Lorraine Region and the Ministry for the Arts and Communications under the patronage of Mr. J. Santer, the president of the European Commission. Thirty public and private partners (banks, EDF-GDF, public buildings etc.) financially supported the event bringing in a third of the budget and facilitating communication with a specific public. Centred on the financing of the exhibitions, this partnership also allowed the renovation of Ecole de Nancy- buildings. Furthermore the event benefited from exceptional media coverage by newspapers and television, 650 journalists covered the event.

A cultural programme year 1999
This cultural year dedicated to the rediscovery of Art Nouveau, began with the opening to the public of 3 large exhibitions in April. In total, more than 100 events were proposed throughout the year. Among these were 3 main exhibitions which took place from April 24 on July 26, 1999 at the prestigious locations of les galeries Poirel, le musée des Beaux Arts and le musée de l'Ecole de Nancy.
Thematic exhibitions on the ceramics, architecture, botany and horticulture, daily life and monographs were organised.
Then there was the inaugural and closing session colloquia of l'Ecole de Nancy: a colloquium on the subject of culture and companies, gathered together company managers, elected members, experts from the whole of Europe to show connections between patrimony and creativity, industrial redeployment, urban renovation and job creation. Another one on the subject of l'Ecole de Nancy and decorative arts in Europe, confronted the production of the artists of l'Ecole de Nancy with other experiences led at the same time in Paris, Brussels, Barcelona, Glasgow, Munich and Vienna.
For the exhibition on 100 years of urban projects, 4 circuits of visits were organised to rediscover architectural translations, together with conferences, meetings of professionals in art and concerts on the subject.
The celebration of this centenary also gave rise to the realisation of large building sites as le musée des Beaux Arts (extension and reopening), les galeries Poirel (restoration), le musée de l'Ecole de Nancy with its garden and aquarium, and other Ecole de Nancy-buildings and squares.
Flowers were planted all over the city to dress Nancy and all the towns of the urban community in the colours of l'Ecole de Nancy. Another event was the selling of a range of products such as posters, paper, jewellery, watches, dishes, glassware and tablecloths inspired by the l'Ecole de Nancy (the fauna and the flora), declined in the 4 colours used by the artists: pink, purple, blue and green.

Results beyond any hope
This year of festivities was the occasion for the city of Nancy and its inhabitants to rediscover a fertile period of its cultural history. But it was also the occasion to honour artists and manufacturers of art and place 'the beautiful within the reach of all' and to take up, in a contemporary context, with a process and a mindset associating creativity, research, education and enterprise.
This year dedicated to l'Ecole de Nancy had an enormous effect on the city and the surrounding region and has expression through an influx of people ever equalled over such a long period. The year was a real focus of economic growth for the shopkeepers, the hoteliers and the artisans. Local crafts benefited from the rediscovery and the interest of the public for Art Nouveau.
The social impact of this event is indisputable. Oriented on the inhabitants, it mobilized institutions and associations to open up the cultural heritage to a large number through actions within youth clubs and art centres, activities in social centres, the opening of workshops of artistic practices in museums on the subject, and the creation of an association aiming at opening the culture to the most poor people.

New cultural projects

This event consolidated Nancy in the European cultural networks by loaning works to Paris, London, Washington, organisation exhibitions dedicated to l'Ecole de Nancy in 4 cities in Japan and new exhibitions in Brussels. The European cities network which possess a patrimony Art Nouveau is going to be established, including 14 cities, and has as its main objective the protection and the promotion of this patrimony. Locally, one of the consequences of this dynamic was the creation of Association of the Friends of l'Ecole de Nancy, guarantor for the continuation of the interest shown by the inhabitants of Nancy in this movement. Beyond Art Nouveau the local authority wishes to develop cultural and economic projects on the foundations of the dynamism from this event.

Le musée de l'Ecole de Nancy with garden Stained-glass Ecole de Nancy Painting representing Emile Gallé's portrait by Victor Prouvé