an installation view with a cat sculpture that opens up on its back surrounded by additional chair sculptures

‘Les Lalanne: Zoophites,’ Kasmin, New York. All photos by Charlie Rubin, courtesy of Kasmin, shared with permission

Now obsolete, the term zoophytes once referred to organisms that exhibited both animal and plant characteristics. It’s also an apt title for a poetic exhibition of sculptures blending beastly and botanical forms by the late Claude (1925-2019) and François-Xavier Lalanne (1927-2008).

On view at Kasmin in New York, Zoophites brings together dozens of surrealist works from the French artists, known together as Les Lalanne, that bridge the divide between kingdoms. Included are iconic pieces like François-Xavier’s “Grand Chat polymorph,” a ten-foot cat with a tail fin and wings that open up to reveal a fully functional bar cart, and a similarly multi-purpose bull whose bronze belly flips open like a small desk. Having worked as a guard in the Egyptian and Assyrian galleries of the Louvre, the artist often referenced ancient mythology and hybridity in his figures.

While François-Xavier gravitated toward the animal, Claude was drawn to the plant world. Oversized ginkgo leaves line “Les Berces adossées,” an elegant bench with four fan-shaped seats. The pair lived together but tended to work separately, and their rare collaborations maintain both of their natural affinities. “Gorille consolé,” for example, features a seated primate by François-Xavier that grasps branches by Claude.

As its name suggests, that glass-top piece is made to hold objects, and some curators and critics struggled to classify the duo’s works because of such functionality. “It was difficult to be accepted in the art world,” Claude said. “We used to have a lot of trouble because we made useful things and made them ourselves. This is automatically considered as so called ‘decorative arts,’ a lesser, secondary art.”

Zoophites borrows its title from a 1964 show in Paris that was the first the pair presented together and is on view through May 9. For more about Les Lalanne, visit Kasmin.

 

a cow sculpture that opens up like a desk with two small animal sculptures on pedestals on either side

‘Les Lalanne: Zoophites,’ Kasmin, New York. Photo by Charlie Rubin

a bronze bench made of gingko leaves

Claude Lalanne, “Les Berces adossées” (2015), bronze, 42 1/8 x 96 1/8 x 29 7/8 inches. Image © Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York, NY / ADAGP, Paris, France

a detail of a black goat with large curved horns

François-Xavier Lalanne, detail of “Bouquetin (grand)” (1999/2016), bronze and black patina, 37 x 53 1/8 x 11 7/8 inches. Image © Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York, NY / ADAGP, Paris, France

a tv console of a seated gorilla in bronze holding up twigs with leaves and a glass top

François-Xavier Lalanne, “Gorille consolé” (2002/2016), bronze and glass 33 7/8 x 72 3/5 x 19 5/7 inches. Image © Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York, NY / ADAGP, Paris, France

a black rhino sculpture

‘Les Lalanne: Zoophites,’ Kasmin, New York. Photo by Charlie Rubin

a bronze bird resting on a twig

François-Xavier Lalanne, “Oiseau de Peter branché (grand) (Modèle de montage)” (2004), bronze, 40 1/8 x 54 3/4 x 44 1/8 inches. Image © Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York, NY / ADAGP, Paris, France

a centaur with a helmet over its face, holding a string with a point that touches the ground and a plane with 1-9

Claude & Francois-Xavier Lalanne, “Centaure (moyen)” (1995/2008), gilt bronze, 48 3/8 x 33 7/8 x 13 inches. Image © Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York, NY / ADAGP, Paris, France

a black and white photo of the artists seated in front of the centaur sculpture

Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne in 1985. Phot by Jean-Philippe Lalanne, courtesy of Caroline Hamisky Lalanne and Kasmin

Do stories and artists like this matter to you? Become a Colossal Member today and support independent arts publishing for as little as $5 per month. The article In ‘Zoophites,’ Les Lalanne Hybridize Beasts and Botany into Functional Sculptures appeared first on Colossal.

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