Sean Landers: Animal Kingdom

Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, Paris

October 17, 2023 – March 10, 2024

An event exhibition marking the return of Sean Landers to France

The Museum of Hunting and Nature opens its doors to Sean Landers (born in 1962), a great representative of contemporary American art and figurative painting. From October 17, 2023 to March 10, 2024, in a tour extending throughout the museum, around his animal portraits, visitors will be able to discover the work of this major artist. This event exhibition marks the return of Sean Landers to France, since his retrospective at the Dijon Consortium in 2020. 

Figuration as a political choice

The ostensible false naivety and deceptive fantasy of this figurative painting inspired by European painting - that of Renaissance portraiture, that of the romantic landscape of the 19th century or that of the Surrealists - highlights an assertion that is both political and aesthetic of the artist's choices. Trained at Yale University School of Art in the 1980s, he explains the adoption of figuration as an alternative position, a dangerous path, but therefore fatally irresistible:  “Doing figurative painting when I was in art school art was the wrong choice to make at the time, when we were taught minimal and conceptual art. We thought it was absurd, laughable, and so obviously, how could I resist it?".

The animal world as a mirror of itself


Conceptual artist, Sean Landers uses his personal experience as subject matter. Between biography and fiction, he stages his life as an artist in a mode of self-exposure which resonates today with the display of our lives on social networks: artifice, manipulation, pretense... With humor and can - to be ironic, it thus undermines the artist's ego in The Urgent Necessity of Narcissism for the Artistic Mind, where a jaguar with pink and green tartan fur, which has become Narcissus, literally drinks from its reflection in a pond. As a background, like a natural history museum diorama, a forest of tree trunks develops in a narcissistic echo, engraved with the artist's first name repeated endlessly: Sean, Sean, Sean...

For more than ten years, Sean Landers has been developing his series of animals with Scottish fur. This incongruous use of tartan, in trompe l'oeil, poses a double reference to Magritte: to his so-called "cow" period of 1948 where in a deliberately crude style, he undermines the notion of "good painting"; and the Scottish slippers that the Belgian surrealist wore when painting.   

A journey in dialogue with the museum’s collections

The temporary exhibition room of the Museum of Hunting and Nature will be entirely devoted to this series. Then, in the rooms of the museum, in dialogue with the permanent collections, with the animal portraits of Chardin (1699-1779), Oudry (1720-1178), Desportes (1661-1741) or stuffed animals, the visitor will go to the encounter with a parade of animals as marvelous as they are mysterious: lion and monkey with faux-antlered fur, rabbit or rooster staring intently at their observers to perhaps question their own humanity.

The exhibition will open to other series which punctuate the artistic career of Sean Landers showing in particular the extreme importance of the text and the written word in its relationship to Surrealism: birch forest with trunks covered with writing in the wood or library exhibiting its fanciful titles like so many riddles or confessions of the artist.

Biographical elements

Born in 1962 in Palmer, Massachusetts, Sean Landers received his BFA from the Philadelphia College of Art in 1984 and his MFA from the Yale University School of Art in 1986. Living and working in New York, he is represented by Friedrich Petzel Gallery in New York, Timothy Taylor in London, Taka Ishii Gallery in Tokyo and Rodolphe Janssen in Brussels.

Sean Landers' work is held in numerous museums and public collections, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the Denver Art Museum; the Seattle Art Museum; the Tate Modern, London; the Sammlung Hoffmann, Berlin; and Fundación/La Colección Jumex, Mexico.

Curator: Christine Germain-Donnat, chief curator and director of the Museum of Hunting and Nature, and Rémy Provendier-Commenne, in charge of collections at the Museum of Hunting and Nature