MusVerre and Conches sur Ouches, what a festival of glass!

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Dove in cristallo-ceram with a love message included in Baccarat Crystal, Restauration period, at Musée Decorchémont

I have already told you about these two glass museums which are my favorites in France. One, the Musverre, is very specialized in contemporary creations and can be found on the Belgian border in Sars Poteries. The other, Musée François Decorchémont is 90 minutes from Paris, in Conches, Normandy. Both have a permanent collection and special exhibitions. And both are in very agricultural surroundings far away from the noise of the city…

Yeun-Kyung KIM, “Tribute to Louis Mériaux” 2022 and Michèle PEROZENI, “Chimères” 2011 at MusVerre

It is an expedition to get to Sars-Poteries and I recommend that you go on your way to Belgium. The magnificent contemporary museum, designed in blue Hainaut stone by the Toulouse architects Bernard and Raphaël Voinchet, is a perfect showcase for contemporary glass sculptors, among whom many Eastern Europeans who took part in the foundation of the collection.  The special exhibition (until January 5) is devoted to “Trop-Plein” (Full up) on waste and overconsumption. The 20 artists are very International with the Dutch Ted Noten, the Swede Asa Jungnelius, the German Wilhelm Vernim, the Polish Ula Goldasz, the American John Moran, the Argentinian Silvia Levenson, the Japanese Shige Fujishiro… twenty artists and fifteen nationalities …

Matt Eskuche, US, 29 hours of television, 2008

The connection with money, excesses, food waste, the throwing away of material and the environmental threat these generate, are all illustrated here with great sense of humor and colorful glass. The extravagant installation by brothers Einar and Jamex De la Torre, from Mexico,  is called “El Dorado”. It is a baroque  accumulation of objects, cigarette butts, religious items, plates, photographs, necklaces which fills up part of the hallway of the museum. A great start for a “crazy” exhibition… where potato chips and empty can and plastic bottles are represented in glass with great talent.

El Dorado – Jamex and Einar De La Torre, 2019-2024, photo Cédric Arnould in MusVerre

I liked “From a pile of shit to Lipstick” by Asa Jungenelius, who reaches to a wide public with day to day symbols. In the corridor, a showcase contains “Garden dwarfs” who each carry a symbol, by Wilhelm Vernim. The “Box-o-Fries” by John Miller is a miracle of dexterity with a McDonald inspiration. So is John Moran’s “Pieta” inspired by Michelangelo but not so pleasant to look at. The exhibition is great fun but what really counts is the museum with its original collections.

John Miller, Box-O-Fries, 2018 at Sars Poteries

Don’t miss in Sars-Poteries, the delicious restaurant Le Pavé de Sars and on November 24, you can also visit nearby, the Matisse museum in Le Cateau-Cambrésis which will reopen after five years of closure. “Trop Plein” runs until January 5.

Musée François Decorchémont in Conches sur Ouches is a very pretty venue

In Normandy, Conches sur Ouches is less contemporary but has a large collection of glass sculptures and stained glass windows designed by François Decorchémont (1880-1971) who gave his name to the museum. The building is very pretty and the garden, which was only planted last year, already has fabulous red roses in bloom. The collection of contemporary pieces is also International with some local artists like Antoine Leperlier, born in Evreux, who is having a one man show at the moment and Josepha Gasch Muche, a German sculptor, who is much more contemporary, is showed in the chapel.

Yumiko Kimura, Sculpture Triptyque, 2015, Gift of the artist

The exhibition of 100  “Glasses with Inclusion from the Léon Darnis collection” is hidden in a small room all the way to the left of the building. It is the first XIX th century exhibition and the occasion starting a new department in the museum who acquired some pieces from the show. And to think that this very discreet collector, who was a veterinary and a “député”,  died last year with these treasures accumulated all his life, is very moving. I particularly liked his Baccarat crystal glasses with enamel inclusions of a butterfly and of a magician, but my favorite is a green glass in “ouraline” (glass which contains uranium) with an angel in cristallo-ceram inserted in it.

Saint Louis, Angel in green ouraline, 1840-1855

All these glasses became very popular among the bourgeoisie during the first Empire and later during the Restauration, 1815-1830. Some of them include a Legion of honor medal, others the portrait of a Royal child, another one is red and shows the portrait of Baron Justus Von Liebig, a chemist. They all tell a story of the time. The director Éric Louet is very dynamic and prepared the exhibition with Léon Darnis just before he died. This collector used to buy his glasses in London and in Paris at auction and became the world specialist of inclusion glasses. He published four volumes of research on how to recognize the orignin of the pieces (which are not signed) from such or such workshop. Depending on the amount of lead and the colour of the crystal, you can determine whether a piece comes from Baccarat or Saint Louis for instance.  The works by Josepha Gasch-Muche are being installed in the chapel right now and this is the first museum exhibition in France for this German artist who is shown everywhere in the world.

Josepha Gasch-Muche, at Musée du Verre in Conches

Make sure to visit this charming little museum near Evreux if you are nearby. It is a great village to drive to through farmland. Until September 22, for the inclusion  glasses and December for the other exhibitions, Musée du Verre in Conches. Beware, the museum only opens at 2 pm.

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