International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts, Paris 1925

Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts

April 28, 1925 - October 25, 1925


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Art and Industry of Stone

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The organisation of this class was designed according to the same principles as the various parts of the exhibition. For example, raw materials were not included in the programme as a sample presentation.

Nor did the stone arts and industries present themselves by piling up huge cut stones in the galleries, which would have left us all quite indifferent. On the other hand, there are magnificent marble works, executed by the Fédération marbrière de France, in the sumptuous Plumet gallery. Marble is still represented at the exhibition by coverings and tiles, such as those of the Pavillon de la Maîtrise (Galeries Lafayette), of the City of Paris, of Sèvres, etc... Decorative stone has found its place in the tiles in front of the courtyard and in various pedestals and garden furniture; sculptural stone is widely represented in the sports gallery.

Granite has its place in the cemetery of the modern village, where more than twenty funerary monuments, designed according to the main principles of modern decoration, are on display.

Polished or stone-tone stucco and staffs are spread over most of the pavilions, as are agglomerates and reconstituted materials. The exhibition is a very important application of these materials, which are intended for light and not very durable constructions. Finally, the stone class includes sandstone and shale, which are used for roofing and for certain paving stones cut with gold mosaics.

After this quick glance at the class as a whole, let us return a little to the marble industry, which was once one of the glories of France and which still occupies, today, a leading place in the construction and building industry. Two stands of one hundred and seventy metres in length are reserved for it: one to the right of one of the avenues of the exhibition, where visitors will admire French marbles from the Pyrenees, the Jura, the Var, the Boulonnais, etc., and the other facing the first, where the most renowned foreign marbles from Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, or Greece will be displayed. The galleries are formed by fifty-six pillars of red Languedoc marble. The walls are divided by twenty-four pilasters cut into the marble. The openings (doors and windows) are separated from each other by overmantels measuring 3.20 metres wide and 4.15 metres high, each with eight slabs of a different marble. A trumeau is therefore made up of a pilaster and two symmetrical panels, each with four slabs of marble. The veining is arranged in such a way as to establish a correspondence and take on a harmonious appearance. The pilaster stands out from the background because of the very different marble it is made of. Each overmantel, while being part of a whole, constitutes a decorative element and represents a variety of our national marble wealth.

In addition to these two immense galleries, we have already said what a wide use was made of this magnificent material throughout the exhibition. The pavilion of the City of Paris is covered with a magnificent ornament of yellow Sienna marble. The Société des Éditions Crès did not hesitate to have a marble staircase built for its pavilion. Finally, M. Forestier, curator of the Bois de Boulogne and architect of the gardens, had the ponds made in yellow marble and gold port, which bring cheerfulness and freshness to the very heart of the exhibition.

To conclude with this beautiful industry, let us point out a very curious innovation, that of the use of marble cut into very thin sheets for the lighting of rooms. The marble, which is only half a centimetre thick and finely polished, becomes extremely translucent and, when placed in front of an electric bulb, reveals its magnificent colours and the entire structure of its crystallisation. The sumptuous marble galleries then take on a fairy-tale appearance at night.
We thought that our readers would be more interested in the implementation of a marble quarry than in the pure and simple reproduction of a few cut leaves or their decorative use. That is why we are giving here a view of one of the most beautiful marble quarries in Carrara. It will be noticed that the quarry seems to be cut in the same way as the clods of butter at our creameries. There is no reason to be overly surprised by this, since the process used to remove a few hectograms of butter is analogous (all things considered) to that used to extract tons of marble from the quarries. Before the war, this beautiful material was massacred by using explosives to extract it from the ground, but today, a wire is used which unwinds at the speed of a few meters per second and which cuts the marble in the same way as the butter cutting wire...

©La Science et la Vie - 1925