Fans of art-deco furniture and decorative objects will already know that Paris-based Galerie Dutko opened its debut London gallery to great acclaim last autumn. Now it is holding the first UK solo show devoted to the work of contemporary French designer and sculptor Eric Schmitt (running until May 7), which kicks off a series of exhibitions focusing on contemporary artists influenced by the art-deco movement.
Schmitt’s innovative designs (from £6,000 to £110,000) in this exhibition use luxurious materials, such as marble, bronze, alabaster and Bohemian glass, created at his Fontainebleau studio. Echoes of French art-deco traditions can be detected in his shapely, sculptural pieces with their alluring surface finishes.
Fluid, organic forms feature strongly – a particularly curvaceous eye-catcher includes the naturalistic, bronze Leaf console (2013, edition of 12, first picture). Schmitt’s sculptural approach takes on a more emphatic form in the imposing Jarre table (2002, edition of 24, second picture) in which a patinated bronze base is combined with a circular white Carrara marble top to create a thoroughly contemporary piece. Sometimes it seems that Schmitt deliberately delivers a visual tease, as exemplified in the Scale dresser (2008, edition of eight, third picture) whose marble “scales” add a cheeky, tactile element to the doors of this functional, lacquered-wood cabinet. With other pieces – such as the Stromboli pedestal table series (2012, edition of 24) in patinated bronze and blown Bohemian glass – it’s the unusual pairing of materials that intrigues.
This willingness to embrace contrasting materials and innovative forms can result in remarkable designs such as the lacquered-aluminium and patinated cast-steel Sugegasa floor lamp (2013, fourth picture) with its dancing, disc-like shade, or the soaring, plinth-like Cordouan floor lamp (2015, edition of eight) made from backlit alabaster and brass.
“Schmitt’s work appeals to collectors because of his talent for combining beautiful colours like gold, marron glacé, charcoal grey and silver, with a wide range of materials,” says gallery owner Jean-Jacques Dutko. “He will use Bohemian glass and steel, marble and Corian, slate and parchment in the same piece. The result is striking, sculptural, luminous and very chic.”
Dutko has timed the exhibition to coincide with the recent publication of Eric Schmitt, the first comprehensive book devoted to the artist and his work over the past 30 years (published by Editions Norma in English and French, €55). “I’ve represented Schmitt for the past five years and following the huge popularity of his work in France and the US, I thought it was time to introduce him to collectors in London,” says Dutko. And it’s not a moment too soon for anyone wishing to source bold, contemporary, art deco-inspired designs.