The Easel

22nd June 2021

The fantastic animals of Lalanne come back to life in the gardens of Versailles

Les Lalanne were a French husband and wife sculpture duo prominent last century. While they worked separately, both featured nature themes in pieces that were “often figurative, and sometimes functional”. Most notable were their surrealist influenced bestiary such as a hippopotamus sculpture that opened to reveal a bathtub. The linked piece is not great; this short article by their gallery helps. (Blame Google Translate for the gender confusion)

The Two Frenchmen Behind America’s Leading Symbol

The back story to the Statue of Liberty. An anti-slavery lawyer came up with the idea and a sculptor produced the design. Plans to model the figure on a Delacroix painting were rejected, so the sculptor turned instead to his mother and his girlfriend. At over 100 tons, the serious structural issues were successfully solved by one Alexandre Eiffel, whose ideas were based on bridge pylons. His profile thus enhanced, his next project was a certain tall steel tower.

15th June 2021

The clay’s the thing – Ceramic: Art and Civilisation, reviewed

A new book describes ceramics as “‘a vibrant enabler of civilisation”. Modern art ceramics is diverse, “a contest between functionalism and aestheticism”. What links modern and ancient works is that the skill of the potter is paramount in determining the power of a piece. “One’s first instinct with a good Roman red-gloss pot is to eat it. Or at least lick it all over.”