Paris in the Spring
Mark McMenamin -- Interior Design, 11/1/2009 12:00:00 AM
Preparing for last April's Pavillon des Arts et du Design fair in Paris, the Chahan Gallery commissioned a ceramist that it reps to design an installation for the gallery's stand. Peter Lane, whose wares are sold in the U.S. by the Cocobolo Gallery, responded by drawing on an experience close to home: a trip to New York's American Museum of Natural History, where a life-size diorama of an Ice Age family's house was built from 15 tons of scavenged mammoth bones. "The effect is breathtaking, an abstract sculpture made from unaltered found objects," he says. At the fair, he transformed this 15,000-year-old subject into a screen that stood nearly 10 feet high by 33 feet wide. He cut and shaped each 35-inch-long component from thin slabs of coarse clay, then etched texture into the surface and applied layers of liquid porcelain. Prior to final firing, he stained the surface with copper and manganese oxides to further accentuate texture. An internal steel armature supported the pieces, so they appeared to be "swimming in the sea," he says.
After the fair, a curator at the Musée du Louvre asked the Chahan Gallery's owner to provide decor for an empty gallery where a party to celebrate the opening of "Madeleine Vionnet: Puriste de la Mode" would take place. Lane was the obvious choice, since one of his stoneware designs is in the permanent collection of the affiliated Musée des Arts Décoratifs. That piece made an appearance at the event, too. "To walk through the Tuileries and see my work through the windows of the museum was quite an experience," he says—with more than just a tiny Mona Lisa smile.