Updated: Aug 22
Have you ever admired a work of art under the sun or under the stars? In many European and world capitals a very original way of enjoying Art has been developed. Outdoors art installations are frequently set in public parks bringing them back to their ‘natural dimension’ and giving anyone the chance to enjoy contemporary or modern art,. Urban spaces, known as ‘green infrastructures’, bring citizens closer to the rhythms of Nature with psychological and physical beneficial effects that increase also air quality by mitigating even the most frequent extreme temperatures during hot summers. This is considered as a democratic way to share the artistic creativity boosting social and cultural interaction that helps overcoming ethnic differences.
Photo >> 'Grenouille Fontaine' (1982) by François-Xavier Lalanne and Ginkgo Side Table - Gilt Patinated Bronze by by François-Xavier Lalanne © Sculptures Artcurial Monaco 2022
The Principality of Monaco has been promoting for a long time this philosophy and the 2022 Monaco Art Week has filled gardens with masterpieces that have been recently auctioned by Artcurial Monaco (20th July 2022). The Jardins de la Petite Afrique, One Monte-Carlo together with the Monte-Carlo Beach, the Hotel de Paris and Hotel Hermitage Monte-Carlo were the backdrops of valuable works that have adapted perfectly even to the greenest environment thanks to the cooperation with the Société des Bains de Mer. Among the others, a series of animal sculptures by François-Xavier Lalanne, to whom (and his partner Claude) a targeted showroom is being held at Sotheby’s Monaco. The immediacy of their message is impressive and brings the observer back to his most ancestral dimension. Sheep, monkeys, rhinoceros, donkeys, camels, toads, hippopotamuses were some of the artist’s preferred themes until his death in 2008.
Round forms and other geometrical perspectives, as well as the use of smooth or rough metallic materials characterize his artistic production showing contrast between the subject and its rendering. Nature is then transformed by Lalanne in an unprecedented way in order to reinvent familiar fauna and flora in abstract and refined creations which become lyrical and even surreal to serve as fascinating indoor or outdoor design objects. The visual impact intrigues those who admire them looking for the innermost mysterious part of Mother Nature reproduced in the form of avatars in urban centers or in the domestic environment.
Photo >> 'Hérisson II' - Gilt Bronze Monogrammed (2000) and 'Pigeon Lamp' - Monogrammed Patinated bronze and copper (1991) by François-Xavier Lalanne - © M.Abbati
Christian Lapie’s monumental masterpiece Les Solstices (2015) overlooking the Petite Afrique Gardens was equally remarkable. The French contemporary artist, originally fond of painting, started testing a revolutionary sculpting through the use of various materials including treated wood. The natural material undergoes a metamorphosis which allows the artistic outcome to enter into dialogue with the environment in which they are placed. In Monaco, the couple of anthropomorphic wooden blocks stood out as dark shadows on the green frame made of exotic plants almost to represent austere ancestors of the Planet Earth. Their mysterious skyline instils a reassuring respect for Mother Nature who takes care of us. Secular trees trunks, in fact, never fails to convey vital energy even if blackened by linseed oil, like in this case. All that embodies the artist’s vision inspired after visiting the Amazon Rainforest. A parade of monolithic and hybrid sculptures originated from his creativity, creating a peaceful ‘fil rouge’ between Human Beings and Flora.
The sculpture therefore seems to convey a sustainable message, inviting the passer-by to meditate on the role he occupies in the Planet Earth. Yves Dana, Egyptian sculptor naturalized Swiss, once said: “A sculptor doesn’t fight against a substance, he dances with it. Sculpture is a dialogue with matter. Each stone suggests shapes, silences, and words that are its own”. His best essence was highlighted through Pierre au Firmament (Stone in the Firmament), a paramount limestone from Sinai suspended in the green close to Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo. Positioned asymmetrically, this three-meter-high art installation, tribute to the artist’s homeland spread a totemic spirit which seems reconnect human spirit with Natural energies as if Nature recovered an almost divine aura. ***
By Maurice Abbati