The illusion is almost perfect. The mural works of American glmaker Ricky Bernstein, currently exhibited at the François Decorchemont gl museum of Conches-en-Ouches, west of Évreux (Eure), give the impression of having been cut out of plastic, but their pop colors and the imagery of the 1950s are indeed the fruit of a very old blown gl technique. The gl elements produced in volume were cut lengthwise and flattened, then cut and embled like a puzzle, explains Éric Louet, director of the museum. “It’s extremely artisanal and sometimes requires six months of work. »
Less than a year ago, the new François Décorchemont gl museum opened in the former Conches hospice, rehabilitated to house gl collections, ranging from the end of the 19th century to the present day, with a room dedicated to contemporary pieces. , “at times when the material gl is no longer used only to make works of art, but also sculptures, installations”. The Norman cultural establishment had already presented a small work by Ricky Bernstein in 2016, a glmaker inspired by the work of Norman Rockwell, during an exhibition on the body.
“But he was in the United States and hadn’t been able to travel to Conches to see the exhibition,” recalls Éric Louet. “A few years later, he had the opportunity and wanted to donate a work to the new museum, with the help of American donors. Entitled “Voilà”, this monumental mural installation offered by the artist based in Machusetts, is the centerpiece of the current exhibition. It shows two women in a kitchen, one with her hands in the dishes, sending everything flying, shouting “Voilà”.
The exhibition includes a total of ten works by the American artist, installed in the 19th century chapel of the former hospice with stained gl windows and the original gallery. His very figurative work presents funny and very embodied characters. The works respond to each other, read like a comic strip, with a series of comical situations featuring post-war housewives.
A critical look at the status of women
“It’s very funny, very pop, with a critical look at the condition of women at that time. There is also something autobiographical in this work, since Ricky Bernstein was born 70 years ago into a middle-cl American family in the 1950s. It was also the time of the first television shows, first sitcoms, comics, all those things that inspired him,” explains Éric Louet.
In any case, the exhibition gave the Norman museum cold sweats. A handful of days before its opening, the works of Ricky Bernstein were still blocked in the port of Le Havre, due to the strike movement against the pension reform.