THE FANCIFUL REALM OF LALANNE
The whimsical world of François-Xavier Lalanne (1927-2008) and his wife Claude, now on show at Paul Kasmin Gallery on Tenth Avenue in Chelsea, reveals their unrivaled artistry in both furniture and sculpture. In their hands, the functional becomes surreal, a metamorphosis that is, well, surreal. Here, an entire room is devoted to crocodiles, which inspired seating and consoles as well.
Also on view is Francois-Xavier’s Hippopotame I dating from 1968-1969, a hippopotamus sculpture in blue polyester resin, which recalls the blue hippopotamus figurines from ancient Egypt. Created for Teeny and Marcel Duchamp, the sculpture when opened reveals a bathtub and a sink. Another surreal example is the cast-iron Babouin (1973), a working fireplace hidden in the belly of a baboon.
Lalanne fans include the French designer Jacques Grange (b. 1944), who crafted the interiors of the homes of fashion designer Yves St. Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé, as well as Coach president Reed Krakoff, architect Peter Marino, film director and fashion designer Tom Ford and collector Jane Holzer.
This exhibition is a must see for both design and art enthusiasts. But if you can’t make the show, grab Kasmin’s book, Claude & François-Xavier Lalanne: Art Work Life (Rizzoli, 2012). In his foray into photography publishing, Kasmin provides an intimate look at the couple’s working life at their studio and home in France. The inventive photos of both finished sculpture and maquettes are especially notable.
“Les Lalanne,” May 4-June 16, 2012, at Paul Kasmin Gallery, 293 Tenth Avenue and 515 West 27th Street, New York, N.Y. 10001.
BROOK S. MASON is U.S. correspondent for the Art Newspaper, and also writes for the Financial Times and other publications.