Sotheby’s is putting up for auction the heritage of the latest design icons, Claude and Françoi-Xavier Lalanne, a highly personal collection that includes his own designs and memorabilia from his many artist friends.
The mere mention of Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne is sure to remind us of images as strange as they are wonderful: iconic white sheep, gleaming crocodile furniture, or perhaps the enduring charm of all things avian. But one does not need to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the legendary work of the French couple to recognize the charm. They combined sculpture with design, infusing playfulness and intellect into their fantastic creations in a way that continues to transport those lucky enough to enter Lalanne’s orbit.
On October 23-24, Sotheby’s will auction around 300 lots of the designers’ latest collection. Pieces from Claude and François-Xavier’s home and studio in the village of Ury, France, will arrive alongside intimate letters and archival documents, and pieces by artists such as Jasper Johns, Marcel Duchamp, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso to the auction house. These deeply personal items don’t come cheap: Sotheby’s previous estimate of the collection is between € 15 million and € 22 million. It will be exhibited this August in New York before being sent to Hong Kong, London and finally to Paris.
The collection was kept in Ury, France, where Claude (until he passed away last April at the age of 94) and François-Xavier (2008) lived. They moved there in 1967, the year they got married. Over the years, the house was filled with furry moutons, metal benches, patinated sculptures of all shapes and sizes, twisted chandeliers …
Florent Jeanniard, head of the design department at Sotheby’s in 20th century Europe, explains that the collection is an elegant combination of Lalannes’ own personal belongings and pieces. Jeanniard lights up when she describes the contents of the library: “We have access to all the secrets,” she says with a smile. “The library is the archive of 50 years of the creation of Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne”. Inside, the team also found letters between the couple and iconic fashion figures, including Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent. (Saint Laurent, in particular, had a close relationship with designers.)
Although not ordinary collectors, the Lalannes accumulated “mementos” from artist friends, many of them personal gifts. Among them, a lithograph by Jasper Johns, sculptures by Jean Tinguely, pieces by Niki de St. Phalle, a small painting by Dorothea Tanning, a lithograph by Max Ernst signed for the Lalannes and an engraving by Picasso, among others. “They knew the world of fashion, the world of books, the world of art,” says Jeanniard. “They knew everyone.” Remarkable art show catalogs will also be featured throughout the years, as well as one-of-a-kind Claude jewelry and tableware.
Artists, but also artisans, the Lalannes proved that living with art was more than having the brushstrokes of a famous painter on the wall. The grace and weirdness of living with such objects, purposely collected, as Jeanniard succinctly puts it: “It’s a dream.”
Near Antwerp, in the heart of Europe, the antique dealer and art dealer Axel Vervoordt has created a cultural space in a former gin distillery, where the mystical and the industrial meet.
“Our intention was to give a new future to this space where architecture, art and nature meet,” explains Boris, one of the two sons of Axel Vervoordt involved in Kanaal, the great family project recently inaugurated at outskirts of Antwerp, a hybrid between cultural center, workplace, private apartments, chapel, auditorium and newly opened meeting space.
This family of art dealers, antique dealers and businessmen is headed by Axel, the pater families, the man who started buying and selling paintings at the age of 22 with no other net than his clinical eye, the one who revolutionized decoration by choosing surfaces for the first time in gross for his stands at the Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris, mixing old and new, Japanese painting and Flemish antiques, and inventing the foundations of wabi-sabi western minimalism, which he so wisely practices. Vervoordt has put his skin, his head and his heart into this.
In a former gin distillery converted into a malting, on the edge of a canal, so close and so far from his beloved Venice, where at Palazzo Fortuny he has astonished the world for years by curating art exhibitions through his foundation, Axel, his Woman May and her offspring have installed their ideas laboratory and their offices, they have built 98 houses with their seal (90% already sold) and they expose a good part of their extensive collection of paintings and sculptures. “If it is not to share, accumulating does not make sense,” says the antique dealer. Thanks to the savoir faire of the Japanese architect Tatsuro Miki, a regular on their projects, they have transformed eight old cement silos into circular exhibition rooms in which Marina Abramovic, Takis, Tatsuo Miyama and other greats present work. The artistic offer (half permanent and half nomadic) is completed by four huge spaces dedicated to El Anatsui (Patio Gallery), sacred art (Karnak), a collection of its fetish artists (Henro I) and a completely industrial building (Escher Gallery ) that now fill the sculptures of the French Lucie Bru.
“I loved that the structure was a treatise on the best industrial architecture, made to serve, not to be beautiful. These columns are powerful because they are made to support the six meters of concrete in the silos. That gives them that invincible power, ”says Axel. The circular and also the water, with all its symbolic charge, are other essential elements for the Belgian, present in Kanaal. “We were looking for the union between raw aesthetics and meditation,” he explains. They found the building 20 years ago and the first author they acquired was Anish Kapoor. “I asked him on my knees to sell me his work, I promised him that we would not use it for commercial purposes,” recalls Axel. Now its spectacular bell occupies one of the spaces and reaffirms the mystical character of this fantasy come true.
The entire complex is a play of light and shadow. The darkness of the naves, the chapel and the auditorium contrasts with the interior garden full of trees treated as sculptures (“Art made nature”, enunciates the head of the clan) and the bright Patio Gallery. It is a mixture of recollection (emptiness, gloom, the East) and nature (luminosity, Europe), spirituality and efficiency, intuition and rationality. Like everything Axel touches. Kanaal can be visited by appointment.
For many, Madrid’s Gran Vía begins at the Metropolis Building, and although its real address is Alcalá 39, it has become one of the symbols of the capital’s artery, photographed millions of times and with characteristics that make it a reference of the city. On June 19, whoever wants or can, will have the opportunity to get a small part of it, since Ansorena puts up for auction the collection of Painting, Furniture and Decorative Arts that has been part of the decoration of the rooms of the Metropolis insurance company, which acquired the building in 1972 and thanks to this event allows you to visit it inside, to take a look at the pieces that will be put on sale. Paintings, engravings, tapestries, the huge lantern at the main entrance, the mold of the famous sculpture representing the Winged Victory that crowns the slate dome, chairs, sofas … A collection of 113 lots that more than one would like at home.
The building was designed by French architects Jules and Raymond Février, and was completed in 1910 by Spanish Esteve Fernández-Caballero, at the request of the Unión y el Fénix insurance company. With a neo-Renaissance style, the upper floors are loaded with Corinthian columns and entablatures that serve as pedestals for allegorical statues of Commerce, Agriculture, Industry and Mining. The statue that crowned the dome was not always the current one, since when Unión y el Fénix sold the building to the current owner insurer, Metropolis, they took the one they had, of the Fénix, on which there was a human figure with the arm Elevation representing Ganymede, which was also part of the Madrid decoration for many years.
The history of Kelly Deco, the new temple of decoration in Vallecas, began four years ago when Cristina Ros was in charge of setting up a pop-up store in an apartment that had caught fire in the middle of Calle Claudio Coello in the Salamanca district of Madrid. There he gathered some of the furniture he liked the most, created an interior design that bore his stamp and joined other related brands to dress the space. And it was a success. “I had so many requests from clients after that that, in the end, I decided to set up a permanent showroom,” the interior designer tells us.
Thus, just two months ago she opened her own space on the outskirts of Madrid, in an old blacksmith shop in an industrial park that she describes as “very special”. “It’s funny because it looks like a polygon in England, surrounded by brick terraced houses. I have left the place bare, raw, although I do not rule out making some small reform, but the minimum, so that I do not lose that soul and grace that I saw when I entered for the first time, ”he explains.
As she herself emphasizes, in her new space she gathers eclectic decorative pieces in which the only thing they have in common is her nose for detecting jewels and unusual objects. “I think the mix is what makes it a bit special. What I like I buy, although it is usually furniture that comes mainly from France and Italy ”.
Wooden pieces from a 19th-century church in Portugal can coexist with Vico Magistretti armchairs from the 70s (Ros’s favorites: “because they are linear, pure and simple”) or with Art Deco commodes. Everything fits and, curiously, everything seems to be related.
“I like that they are strange things and avoid the commercial and I am not guided by fashions. It is not the typical thing you find in an antique shop. That is why I do not like having only Nordic furniture, for example, I am more romantic and more baroque ”, he concludes.