Claude & François-Xavier Lalanne: Nature Transformed,
May 8–October 31, 2021, at The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Mass.
It has been more than forty years since an American art museum has mounted a presentation of 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 locations, 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.
“This will be an exciting summer at the Clark, full of new discoveries and wonderful opportunities to enjoy art both in our galleries and on our grounds,” said Olivier Meslay, Hardymon Director of the Clark. “From the fantastical objects created by sculptors Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne to the lively paintings and prints of Nikolai Astrup, we will be introducing audiences to artists who may not be familiar, but whose work is sure to engage and inspire new admirers. Our contemporary projects, Ground/work and Erin Shirreff: Remainders, also provide our audiences with new opportunities to explore the current work of some of the most exciting artists working today. And we round out our summer offerings with a look back at the masterful work of Albrecht Dürer and his abiding influence on generations of artists.”
Visit the The Clark website for more info.