Inside Les Lalanne at Paul Kasmin Gallery
By Fan Zhong
In 1967, the artists Francois-Xavier and Claude Lalanne moved from Paris, where they ran in a circle with the likes of Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Bergé, and Constantin Brancusi, to the small French village of Ury, near Fontainebleau. Over the years, Les Lalannes, as they are known, transformed their farm into something of a fairytale safari, carving out garden paths populated with their surreal sculptures of animals in a manner that appeared incidental, as if the works were in their natural habitat. “It’s absolutely magical,” says the garden designer Madison Cox, who is close to Pierre Bergé (an ardent collector of the Lalannes’s work), and a longtime friend of the artist couple. Cox has always been enamored of Claude’s artistry with organic matter—while her husband, who died six years ago, is known for his oversized sculptures of beasts, Claude, at 91, is still making intricate jewelry from fossilized flora and fauna—and has designed Les Lalannes, an exhibition of the couple’s work that opened last week at Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York, to channel the sense of discovery he found when he visited their gardens in Ury. “You turn a corner and there’s a surprise,” he says of the show, which includes a version of the famed “hall of mirrors” in Saint Laurent and Bergé’s Paris home. “I envisioned the gallery as it were an exterior. There’s a series of spaces that become a labyrinth. It isolates the work, so you don’t get to meet all the pieces at once.”
“Les Lalannes” is on view at Paul Kasmin Gallery, 515 West 27th Street, through May 2.