The first retrospective exhibition dedicated to the work of the artist Jacques Gruber is presented at the Galeries Poirel in Nancy, France. Dating from the 1890 years until the First World War, nearly 150 drawings, paintings, furniture, posters and stained glass from famous international museums (musée d’Orsay and musée des arts décoratifs in Paris, the Royal museums of Brussels, the Virginia museum of Fine Arts ) and prestigious private and public collections, are exhibited.
Jacques Gruber (1870-1936) belongs to the second generation of artists of the Ecole de Nancy movement. When he comes back from Paris in 1893 to settle in his adoptive city of Nancy, Gruber joins artists like Gallé, Majorelle, Daum brothers and Prouvé who are already well known from the public and collectors.
His studies in Paris, in the workshops of Pierre Victor Galland and Gustave Moreau at the Ecole des beaux Arts have made a great designer of him, and as soon as he returns, Gruber becomes professor in the local Ecole des Beaux Arts.
Between 1893 and 1897, Gruber is a regular contributor to Daum glass-factory. He provides designs and vase shapes for the pieces produced for great events and exhibitions. They are of historical and mythological inspirations. His compositions mix techniques and décor in a very clever manner.
From 1896-1898 on, Gruber devotes his skills more and more to stained glass. At the same time, he produces a large corpus of posters, menus, stationery, but also paintings and pastel drawings. His interests in a variety of disciplines lead him as far as to the field of book binding. Borrowings from typical 19th century’s Troubadour style stand next to the natural invasion of floral and landscape motives with the same energy which is the mark of Gruber’s personal style. This dynamism of shapes is particularly sensible in the pieces of furniture that he designs, with the help of cabinet-maker. His first encounter is for Majorelle’s famous table « La Source ». His work is full, strong and undulating. Glass engraved panels are included in wood frames, in a very personal way. Like Vallin, Gruber uses the natural forms to give life to his work, and the same dynamics comes out of a small and elegant casket or of a huge bookshelf.
In the 1904-1905s, Gruber is commissioned by the earthenware factory of Rambervillers (Vosges): architectural ceramic decors, vases, lamp feet are conceived in the same naturalistic and moving manner… But it is as a stained-glass designer that Gruber soon earns his artistic and public consecration. This part of his work is capital and this is where he achieves his skills. A vast campaign of restoration was conducted in order to present in this part of the exhibition a number of stained glass windows which were deposed in the musée de l’Ecole de Nancy .
The visitor is also invited to continue the discovery of Gruber’s remaining stained glass windows with the help of a circuit through the city (visits, iPhone application, leaflets…). The First World War is the beginning of a new phase in Gruber’s career. He soon leaves for Paris where he opens his stained glass workshop. His style follows the general evolution of the decorative arts. A couple of pieces dated around 1920 end the exhibition and its exploration of Gruber’s rich and varied crafts.
A complete program of guided tours, conference and workshops is available.