Lovely to come face to face with these magical animal-inspired sculpture/furniture pieces by duo Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne at Ben Brown Fine Arts in Mayfair.
Claude's work has a magical, fairytale quality about it, mixed with elements of the surreal. It is great that she is still creating art at the age of 91.
Some of the works seem to hark back to the Art Nouveau and Deco period, especially the furniture with its sinuous whiplash lines, and use of elements of nature such as the variety of foliage. The gingko leaf table below, is wonderful.
What I dislike about Claude's work however, are the pieces like the two above which use representations of crocodiles and their skins. These furniture pieces seem to hark back to colonial times when animals such as these were hunted and killed as sporting trophies, or used to create grotesque pieces for the home such as those awful turn of the last century elephant feet umbrella stands. They seem really crude in comparison to the sophistication of her other furniture pieces.
François' s works (mainly animals), are so beautifully playful, and usually larger in scale than Claude's. They were influenced by Egyptian sculpture. The animals are so marvellously sculpted and I like the functional aspect, as many have the dual function as pieces of furniture and storage. The baboon woodburning stove is just so cool, as is the antelope desk below. François passed to spirit in 2008.
These lovely sheep stools are what the couple initially became known for. I like the way in which the Ben Brown Fine Arts has zoned the sculptures in the exhibition, presenting them in their own little 'environments'. The flock of sheep are in a rocky landscape, whereas the monkey tables are in a jungle, and the large rabbit is in an alpine setting. So glad I got to see these pieces first-hand. Would love to be able to afford one of their larger pieces one day.
Claude & François - Xavier Lalanne
until 26th January
Ben Brown Fine Arts
12 Brook's Mews