J ane Holzer is an American art collector and film producer who was also an actress, model and famous Andy Warhol muse. She was a close friend of Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne and a great collector of their works. She was the driving force behind the Léo Castelli Furniture 'Designed by Artists' exhibition in 1972, which featured a work by François-Xavier Lalanne for the first time in the United States, Boîte de Sardine. Jane Holzer recounts her memories of the Lalanne couple and the Boîte de Sardines.
Florent Jeanniard: In the 70s, you were already very present in the New York arts, music and fashion worlds. How did you come to know François-Xavier and Claude Lalanne ?
Jane Holzer: I actually met them in the 60s, through a gallerist by the name of Gilbert Brownstone. He had a gallery in Paris and it was he who introduced me to Claude & François-Xavier. He was exhibiting a work by François-Xavier, a wool sheep. I didn't know the artist, but I was immediately seduced by the work, and it was my first Lalanne. Gilbert then invited me to meet the artist François-Xavier and his partner Claude. That's how I met them, and I fell in love with them from the start.
FJ: How did you come up with the idea for this exhibition of artists' furniture at Leo Castelli in New York in 1972 ?
JH: I had this idea because there were a lot of artists in my sphere, and one day I suggested that they design furniture based on their art. They all said yes. I had a partner, Kent Klineman, who took care of the financial side and I took care of the creative side. It was a fun time when it was easy to make things if you had ideas, and I've always appreciated artists. I was happy to be even closer to them with this project.
FJ: So you contacted each of the artists to design a work ?
JH: Yes, because I knew them all. So I called them up and asked them to participate. Robert Rauschenberg said he'd make a lamp, and John Chamberlain made what we called the Flucking sofas, which I later donated to the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. Mark di Suvero created a swing that I still own. Another artist, Gus Spear, made a wonderful chair, and Donald Judd came up with an amazing Minimal table.
FJ: So you decided to invite François-Xavier Lalanne to take part in the exhibition...
JH: Yes, I knew him well and I could see the evolution of his work. He always knew how to incorporate functionality into his pieces. It was obvious to me to ask him to take part in this exhibition.
"The way this man came up with these ideas was simply incredible...that's what characterized him, his sense of humor and mischievousness..."
FJ: Did you know what François-Xavier was planning to do for the exhibition ? Did you discuss his project?
JH: Absolutely not. The artists had carte blanche. I had no idea what François-Xavier was planning to do for the exhibition. When we received the work in New York, I was totally surprised by his silver leather sardine bed. Who would have thought of making a piece of furniture from a can of sardines? That was his genius. The way this man came up with these ideas was simply incredible. And that's what characterized him, his sense of humor and mischievousness...really surprised me.
FJ: What was your relationship with the Lalanne over the years ?
JH: Friendly and sincere. Claude would often call me and ask, "When are you coming to Paris ?”
And as soon as I came, my first phone call off the plane was to her. I'd go to Ury to visit them in their house/workshop and we'd have dinner together - they were very good cooks - or we'd have dinner in Paris. I later introduced them to Marc Jacobs, when he came to live in Paris.
Marc wanted a woolly sheep. So I introduced them and we went to dinner at La Méditerranée, place de l'Odéon, Claude and François' favorite restaurant. It was a wonderful time, a wonderful life, and they were great friends. I miss them very much.