02 July 2008

Rococo. "The Continuing Curve"

Rococo. "The Continuing Curve" is an exhibition currently on view at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum in New York City. The exhibition is a comprehensive look at the stylistic movement known as Rococo from the 1700's to the present day throughout Europe and America. Above and below are photographs that show strong examples of the Rococo style - particularly in interior design, art, porcelain, clock-making and silver.

Included below is the museum's statement regarding the movement and the exhibition:

"The stylistic movement known as rococo, which began in eighteenth-century France, has infused design objects with a sinuous, organic, and sensuous impulse for three centuries. In its original manifestation, rococo dominated French design from 1730 to 1765, during the reign of Louis XV. The king and his mistress Madame de Pompadour endorsed the rococo spirit, as it reflected their predilection for an intimate lifestyle and their love of extravagance. Rococo turned away from the constraints of classicism’s geometry toward nature for models, celebrating the tactile as well as the visual, the fantastical over the intellectual. Designers competed to produce highly original, eccentric, and exotic designs in silver, refined woods, textiles, and ceramics, all of which appealed to the senses and emotions. Rococo design ideas, transmitted by decorative-arts prints, objects, and the traveling designers themselves, quickly spread to England, the Netherlands, the German states, the Iberian Peninsula, Italy, and America.

The rococo impulse went underground during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, when neoclassicism prevailed, then resurfaced in England under the flamboyant Prince Regent, later George IV, and in France during the Second Empire (1852–70). Rococo’s most significant later interpretation occurred internationally from about 1880 to 1915, when designers found inspiration in the natural flow of the rococo aesthetic for a new design concept known as Art Nouveau. While the austere geometry of modernism governed much of design thinking during the twentieth century, designers continually returned to organic, natural curves as a source of inspiration in the 1930s, 1950s, and the psychedelic 1960s. More recently, the rococo spirit has burst forth once again as a creative force.

Through the past 300 years, the generative influences behind rococo and its revivals appear to be similar. Rococo erupts in reaction to periods of severe constraint and thrives in times of burgeoning economic prosperity. Rococo objects speak to human desires that go beyond simple necessity, and many are works of extreme craftsmanship. They tap into the sensuous, pleasure-seeking aspects of design when designers and their patrons seek creative freedom and fantasy. Finally, rococo reflects increased respect for the feminine, with objects referencing the female form. Rococo: The Continuing Curve, 1730–2008 places the exuberant movement within the historic continuum, bringing together an unprecedented collection of designers and objects of diFerent eras to celebrate the joyful and liberating spirit of rococo." Exhibition closes 6 July 2008.

François Boucher

The Rococo color palette is blue, celedon, pink, pastel and gold

Sèvres Porcelain

The medium of porcelain became a focus of French rococo design thanks to the enthusiasm of Madame de Pompadour. She convinced Louis XV of the international prestige to be gained by a French manufactory that could develop an innovative rococo line to challenge the German production of the Saxon court at Meissen. Louis invested in a fledgling porcelain enterprise, then located in the abandoned fortress of Vincennes, constructed new premises at Sèvres in 1756, and finally bought the enterprise outright in 1759. (Below three photographs)