The Transparent Beauty of René Lalique, A Teien Art Museum Special Exhibition

Art Deco Style: Modernity And Elegance

By The Savvy Team
February 24, 2020
Art & Culture, Out & About

French glass designer, René Lalique (1860-1945) was known for his creations of glass art from 1910 until his death in 1945. During this period of time, Lalique presented the world with around 4,300 types of designs which included perfume bottles, vases, jewelry, chandeliers, clocks, and automobile hood ornaments.

Until April 7, a new exhibition that traces the history of French artist René Lalique is available at the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum. The exhibition observes Lalique’s elegant glassworks during the zenith of Art Deco, early in the 20th century. 

Art Deco Inception

Currently on display are 220 carefully selected masterpieces from the Kitazawa Museum of Art’s Lalique collection, as well as a special exhibit from the former Imperial Asaka family collection. Lalique’s work decorates the interior of the residence, such as the impressive front entrance glass relief door that used to lead official visitors into the house.

The typical Art Deco residence is the perfect setting to host this exceptional collection. Here, you can take a glimpse into the life of a member of the Imperial family during the Art Nouveau period in Japan.

The Teien Art Museum offers visitors a rare and unique opportunity to discover these glassworks under natural lighting, in all of their magnificent transparency. Not only these artworks are enhanced by a delicate and stunning presentation, but the amount of Lalique Art Deco pieces that were gathered for this exhibit is also remarkable. 


Glass-relief doors in the front entrance hall, the Former Prince Asaka Residence 1933 Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum

A Unique Chance To Discover Lalique’s Exquisite Glassworks In Japan

You may be even more surprised by the fact that Lalique actually never set foot in Japan—all exchanges between the artist René Lalique and its clients were done by post, including sending all pieces to Japan once produced. Luckily, even though a history of devastating tragedies that happened in Japan since then, all exhibited pieces are in an impressive state allowing visitors to appreciate even more the chance to discover Lalique’s work in Japan.

All pieces that you can see inside the exhibition belong to Japanese collections, some very rare and fragile cire perdue items are on display as well. Among the precious glassworks that you can observe, vases that the Showa Emperor brought back as mementos during his travels in Paris are also on show.


Cire Perdue Glass Pitcher Mask of Little Faun 1922

Lalique, A Pioneer In Art Deco

Lalique opened the era of Art Deco with a number of elegant works made of glass. Since glass is a material that is easy to process and suitable for mass production, it has spread rapidly since the end of the 19th century.

Lalique saw the vast possibilities of glass from quite an early stage, going on to replace gemstones in his jewelry creations with it during the Art Nouveau period, and developing an original technique to mold it uniquely there onwards. He was also so fond of glass that he actually strived all his life to use this material as a base to create every daily object that he could.  


Perfume bottle “Their soul” Dolsay, 1914 (Kitazawa Museum of Art) Photo by Takao Ogata

Whether you’re a fan of Art Deco and early 20th-century art, or simply a lover of all that is beautiful, we highly recommend taking the time to look around and be mesmerized by the incredible creations of René Lalique. Access to both Japanese and Western gardens adjacent to the Teien Art Museum is also included in the ticket, a perfect stroll to end your visit of the day! 

The Deets

René Lalique, Modernity and Elegance

Where: Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum, 5-21-9, Shirokanedai, Minato-ku, Tokyo
When: Sat, Feb. 1 to Tue, Apr. 7, 2020. From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Cost: ¥1,100 (Adults), ¥880 (University students), ¥550 (High school students and under)


NOTICE: To help prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum will temporarily close from February 29 to April 12 so the exposition will unfortunately not re-open.

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