Oct 28 2011

Lalanne at Ben Brown

by Olivier Krischer

FRANCOIS-XAVIER LALANNEGorille consolé, 2005, bronze with glass top, 86 × 185 × 50 cm. Courtesy Ben Brown Fine Arts.

A selection of work by the well-known sculptor couple Claude and her husband, the late François-Xavier Lalanne, is being shown in Asia for the first time. Both artists create works intended to be both functional and non-functional. For example, François-Xavier’s Gorille Consolé (2005) is a glass-top table, held aloft by a sculpted golden gorilla seated underneath, grasping two of the branch-like table legs, which are trimmed with delicate gold leaves.

Though the couple has often exhibited together, they have always worked separately. While there is some overlap in their work, Madame Lalanne incorporates a more organic and playful fusion of plants and animals with art nouveau details, while François-Xavier’s animals and objects tend to sport sleeker, simpler art deco lines.

Claude’s Love Seat (1992) is a bench for two people to sit side-by-side while facing each other. It was remade in an edition of eight in 1992, based on her 1972 work, originally created for the home of the late French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent. Pain Pieds (1971/91), literally “bread feet,” is another stand-out piece in Claude’s oeuvre: a life-size baguette with four pairs of little human feet. Claude, who was in Hong Kong for the opening, said the feet were modeled on those of her own granddaughters.

CLAUDE LALANNEPain Pieds, 1971 / 1991, Bronze and copper, 15 × 97 × 15 cm. Courtesy Ben Brown Fine Arts

While many of the larger works, including chandeliers, mirrors, tables and chairs reflect a playful opulence in their possible functionality yet decorative beauty, pieces such as Pains Pieds explore the couple’s evidently rich, shared sense of humor and joie de vivre.