ERIC SCHMITT – 30 Years of Creation

by | Spotlight

The Dutko Gallery in London’s Mayfair is presenting ‘Eric Schmitt – 30 Years of Creation’ – the first UK solo exhibition of French product designer and sculptor. The exhibition also coincides with the launch of the first book dedicated to the designer. This show is the first of a series of solo exhibitions that focus on contemporary artists who are influenced by the Art Deco movement. The Dutko Gallery is unique in London in showcasing Art Deco masterpieces both past and present.

Eric Schmitt – who is self-taught – has been producing his distinctive and much sought after work for over 30 years. He designs limited-edition pieces under his own name as well as architectural elements such as fireplaces, balustrades and fountains. This extremely versatile designer is as comfortable producing snooker tables for Ian Schrager, decorative pieces for Christian Liaigre as well as fine collections of jewellery.

With a background in rock-music research, photography and film decor, Schmitt started making objects with found metal scraps in Paris, where he shared a studio with other artists. He soon joined a group called The Barbarians, whose lead figures were Mattia Bonetti, Elizabeth Garouste and Olivier Gagnère in the 1980s – it was the French equivalent of the UK’s Creative Salvage movement, founded by Tom Dixon and Andre Dubreuil. This movement’s aesthetic was marked by the spontaneity and randomness of materials found at metal scrapyards.

It is from his workshop set at the edge of the Fontainebleau forest where hundreds of models are created, designed and shaped before being produced by France’s finest craftsmen. It is perhaps therefore no surprise that the organic patterns of nature feature heavily in his output. Schmitt also traces his inspiration both to the bold shapes of architecture in general, as well as the simplicity of shape of Romanesque art, which dominates the Poitou region where he grew up.

Very much in the tradition of French decorative arts, his work has echoes of every 20th century decade whilst remaining resolutely contemporary. Known for his mastery of metals such as iron and bronze, Schmitt works in a wide variety of materials including stone and glass. There is a striking monumentality about all Schmitt’s diverse and prodigious output that blurs the lines between art and design.

‘Eric Schmitt – 30 Years of Creation’ is at the Dutko Gallery, London. 8 APRIL – 14 MAY 2016

What’s the design you are most proud of – and why?

The “Jarre Table” in bronze and marble I designed 12 years ago. It is a good mix of past and modernity.

Image: Jarre Table, 2002 by Eric Schmitt. Patinated bronze and Carrara marble. Courtesy Dutko Gallery

Eric Schmitt Sugegasa table lamp 2013 Polished lacquered brass and patinated cast steel

Where does your aesthetic stem from? Who/what have been your key
influences?

My key influence is Roman art highlighted by the village churches in my native Poitou that were a familiar figure in my childhood.

Eric Schmitt Cordouan floor lamp 2015 Backlit alabaster and brass
Eric Schmitt Leaf console 2013 Patinated bronze and polished bronze

What are your favourite materials to work with?

I of course love to work with different kinds of metals in particular bronze. I am very familiar with these materials and have a good mastery of them so they are like old friends. Capricious materials like mouth blown glass, ceramic, porcelain are unpredictable but exciting..

Image: Stromboli and Fuji pedestal tables 2012 by Eric Schmitt. Courtesy Dutko Gallery

What projects are you working on next?

A few pieces of spectacular furniture including a billiard table for a New-York hotel by Ian Schrager built by the architects Herzog et Demeuron and some pieces for a mythical hotel in Paris whose interior decorating is signed by Christian Liaigre. A new collection of pieces for my American gallery Ralph Pucci and a collection of jewellery.

Image: Roc Dining Table 2010, Patinated bronze by Eric Schmitt. Courtesy Dutko Gallery.

WHERE NEXT?

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