Known for her sculptural collaborations with husband François-Xavier Lalanne, with whom she worked under the collective signature ‘Les Lalannes’, the exhibition offers a window into Claude Lalanne’s most intimate world. Marking the first time the artist’s small objects have been exclusively exhibited, Butterflies et Bijoux, celebrates the eclecticism and intimacy of her oeuvre. Including a handmade jewellery chest from the dressing table of the artist herself, the exhibition is characterised by the surreal marriage of flora and fauna: snails with fingers for heads, shells as spoons, rabbits in roughs and butterflies intended for the wrist, neck and hair.
The success of Lalanne’s sculpture and jewellery is in part due to her mastery of electroplating, a process which allows the complete transformation of organic material into copper. Flora or fauna, often taken from the artist’s garden, is submerged in a bath of copper sulphate with a current running through it. The copper builds on the organic material, ultimately creating a perfect metallic replica of the original. The artist then sews these fossilised forms together, giving them new life as fantastical pieces of art. It is this process, enshrining creative spontaneity, that separates Claude’s work from the meticulously drafted constructivism of her husband’s.
Lalanne has used jewellery throughout her career as a medium of artistic expression and continues to do so at the age of 92. Displaying pieces from across her ubiquitous career, the exhibition traces the roots of her inspiration, from her work with Galerie J – the foremost surrealist dealer in Paris – to her friendships with fellow surrealist artists, including Man Ray and Dali.