Gilt patinated bronze, ball bearings. 70 7/8 x 100 3/8 x 18 1/2 in.
Private Collection. Image: Nicolas Dubois / Art Digital Studio © Sotheby’s; Artwork: © 2020 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
It has been more than forty years since an American art museum has shown the work of sculptors Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne, and the Clark’s exhibition this summer provides a fresh perspective on these innovative artists. Their imaginative and powerful sculptures have long delighted international audiences and collectors. During their remarkable careers, the married artists worked and exhibited together, often under the joint name “Les Lalanne,” although they seldom collaborated on objects.
Common to both artists was their abiding interest in nature. From their earliest exhibition in 1964, entitled Zoophites, a reference to objects with a mixture of animal and plant characteristics, the artists repeatedly drew inspiration from flora and fauna and morphed these natural forms into something strange and new. In her works, Claude Lalanne (1924–2019) transformed familiar plants and animals into lyrical and sometimes surreal creations while François-Xavier Lalanne (1927–2008) turned his fascination with the mysterious inner life of animals into abstracted and refined sculptural forms that often concealed a practical function. In the work of both Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne, artistic vision bends natural forms to new uses.
The Clark is the sole venue for this exhibition, which also marks the first museum presentation of the artists’ work since the 2019 death of Claude Lalanne. Nature Transformed features an equal number of objects by each artist from across their long careers, revealing the power of their artistic imagination, their impressive command of technique, and their enduring visual appeal. The works include sculpture and furniture by both artists and a selection of Claude Lalanne’s wildly inventive flatware and jewelry.
Nature Transformed, presented in the Clark’s Michael Conforti Pavilion and in additional outdoor installations, is curated by Kathleen Morris, the Clark’s Sylvia and Leonard Marx Director of Exhibitions and Curator of Decorative Arts. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue, published by the Clark and distributed by Yale University Press.
Major support for Claude & François-Xavier Lalanne: Nature Transformed is provided by Denise Littlefield Sobel. Significant funding is provided by Sylvia and Leonard Marx, with additional support from Agnes Gund and Robert D. Kraus. The exhibition catalogue has been published with support from Furthermore: a program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund.