rené lalique

︎Artist, Sculpture 
︎ Ventral Is Golden

The work of René Lalique blends the realms of opalescent imagination with wearable pieces of art, which seem not to belong to this world, let alone a world belonging to the 1890's.

"René Lalique's work had gained wide-spread popularity. He already used enamel and glass, side-by-side with gold, opals, diamonds, pearls or amethysts, to embellish his jewellery. At the time, originality and creativity had been abandoned in favour of ornate and lavish styles with an abundance of precious stones. Lalique made the materials he used central to his designs. He chose them for their power, light and colour, whether they were precious or not. He combined gold and gemstones with semi-precious stones, mother-of-pearl, ivory and horn, in addition to enamel and glass."

Lalique made the materials he used central to his designs. He chose them for their power, light and colour, whether they were precious or not.

Lalique's sketches are significantly intricate works in themselves, and reminiscent of the bizarre contraptions outlined in Luigi Serafini's cult classic 'Codex Seraphinianus', where transmogrifying goddesses emerge through the golden encasings of dragonflies, and demiurges are suspended in their translucent microcosms.
"The 1925 International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts in Paris marked the climax of René Lalique’s career as glassmaker, and a triumph for the Art Deco movement. His techniques with glass gave rise to a style that was essentially expressed through the contrast between clear and frosted glass."

The often surreal and symbolic nature of Lalique's designs lend themselves to the realm of alchemy (that of making manifest the spiritual within the domain of the material). The peacock is a popular motif, known in some texts by its latin term Cauda Pavonis, and this signifies a stage in the alchemical process of a consciousness shift within the mind of the scientist/artist. In physical terms, this indicates the relationship between the substance and the fire, whereby high temperature causes a reaction that generates iridescent colours across it's surface, resembling the peacock's tail.

The art of glass making and staining glass has long been considered a lost esoteric art, most notably researched by Rene Schwaller, who said, "I have retrieved fragments of this kind of manufacture in crucibles of early Pharonic sites... Once you can infuse reds and blues into glass in this manner, you have proved the gesture of 'separatio', you have 'separated the earth from fire, the subtle from the dense'. It takes great agility to separate while keeping both parts. Yet this is essential, for there must be body from which the spirit can rise, as there must be earth for the descent of fire. The glass is colored by the spirit of the metal, by the color-form."
A case in point is The North Rose Window of Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, which was believed to have been coloured using esoteric methods lost to the modern world by the alchemists of the Parisian alchemical revival.

Another interesting link between the work of Lalique and its spiritual connections, is that of the Ahura Mazdasymbol (first image of this post). Whether the use was intentional or not, the Ahura Mazda, which emanated in Iran, is embedded within our culture and language. It means 'wisdom' or 'to place one's mind wise', and is embodied in a diety who requires the help of human creativity to balance the effects of his counterpart Angra Mainyu, the petty aspect of the mind meaning 'worst thinking', from where we derive our modern word 'angry'.

Although the elegant worlds of Lalique and the alchemists seem distant from our own, in both physical and spiritual apprehension, this symbol is known by most of us in the West through the production of cars that bare the same name. So it isn't as distant as you may think.

Further Reading ︎
Fulcanelli, Schwaller on stained glass
L'Homme de Verre, Video
The architecture and product design of Lalique, Video
Persian and Iranian influences on the Western Culture, Video