By the Hand of the Maker: Jewellery by Alexander Calder and Claude Lalanne: Design Miami

3 - 7 December 2014

Louisa Guinness Gallery is delighted to present "By the Hand of the Maker" a new exhibition of work by Claude Lalanne and Alexander Calder exclusively for Design Miami 2014.

 

Both Alexander Calder and Claude Lalanne are exceptional in the world of artist made jewellery for the simple fact that they made all of their jewellery themselves: as skilled metal-smiths they were able to create wearable sculpture without the help of a goldsmith.

 

Both Calder and Lalanne used jewellery throughout their careers as a medium of artistic expression, alongside their large-scale work. Calder made around 1,800 unique pieces in his life-time. Lalanne has made both unique pieces and editions, and continues to create jewellery today, at the age of 89.

 

For both, their wearable sculpture has been fashioned using the same techniques as those used in their large-scale work. Calder would work spontaneously. Beginning with brass or silver wire, he would hammer and twist the metal to life. He never used solder in his work; instead fastenings and fixings were also made from twisted wire. Calder's jewellery is as instantly recognizable as his large scale work, sharing motifs, inspiration and, above all, a sense of movement. Indeed, Calder's famous use of moving elements in his famous "Mobiles" was presaged in small-scale, in his jewellery.

 

Lalanne's method is similarly spontaneous. Instead of bending and twisting metal, Lalanne uses the very different techniques of electroplating and soldering. First, the artist meticulously chooses a flower or stem, usually from her garden. This is then  submerged in a bath of copper sulphate, which has a current running through it. This causes copper to build on the organic matter, creating a perfect metallic fossil of the original. Working spontaneously, Lalanne then weaves and solders this copper flora and fauna together until she intuits that the piece is finished.

 

Both artists thought little of hierarchies in the arts. To both Calder and Lalanne, their functional sculpture was of equal importance as any of the "Fine Art" they produced. Indeed, because these pieces were not the mainstay of their income or their artistic output, these works share a sense of freedom and playful exploration.

 

In this exhibition of exceptional works by both artists (including a selection of new pieces by Claude Lalanne) we will guide the viewer through the work of these two giants of artists' jewels. We will show an area of great convergence and imagination by two artists whose work is seldom mentioned in the same breath.