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A menagerie of creatures great and small has marched into Paris’ Les Arts Décoratifs for “Les Lalanne,” a major retrospective honoring the whimsical oeuvre of French artists Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne.
American architect Peter Marino, an avid collector of the Lalannes’ work, has transformed the nave of the museum into a trellised garden, where François-Xavier’s beasts, like a rhino-shaped desk or a monkey chimney piece, mingle with his wife Claude’s precious objects and meticulous moldings, which include a self-modeled bust and torso, jewelry and tableware.
The Lalannes’ flora and fauna-inspired furniture and objects, such as the famous flock of sheep or a monumental sculpture of the Minotaur, are dotted around five exhibition rooms.
“He was able to take something ordinary and make it extraordinary,” Marino has said of François-Xavier, who died in December 2008.
Many of the 150 pieces on display are from private collections. The Lalannes’ relationship with high society bolstered the couple’s output, establishing them as sought-after artists by the Rothschilds and a number of fashion designers, including Hubert de Givenchy and Yves Saint Laurent.
Among the objects on display are two galvanized mirrors with entwined branches that were commissioned by Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé for their Parisian apartment in 1972.
The exhibition illuminates the artisanal qualities of sculpture and how the Lalannes both worked in very different ways with metal and solder. It runs until July 4.
Les Arts Décoratifs, 107 Rue de Rivoli. +01-44-55-5750, lesartsdecoratifs.fr