French sculptor Ingrid Donat counts Diego Giacometti as a former mentor and interior designer Peter Marino among her collectors, and is now the subject of a major retrospective (Thursday November 10 to Saturday December 17) at Carpenters Workshop Gallery in New York, covering 30 years of her work. Donat’s large-scale pieces in bronze, leather and parchment are often inspired by African tribal art, as well as by various art nouveau and art deco elements.
“My work reflects quite naturally an idea of masculinity – there is the heaviness of bronze, its cold appearance, and the tribal dimension I usually give it,” says Donat. “All these influences come from my father, who is native to Réunion Island. The feminine aspect of my work comes from art deco and from fascinating artists such as André Groult. For me, art deco means sophistication, details, discretion and restraint.”
The pieces on view – in bronze and with etched surfaces that recall the tradition of tribal tattooing – range from small tables to huge consoles and decorative wall elements and illustrate her intricately engraved, highly textural style.
Rhythmic patterns that incorporate circles, squares and loops bring to life the surfaces of pieces such as the bronze Klimt cabinet (from €145,000). The low Table Basse Koumba (from €65,000) offers a simple surface reminiscent of textile patterns, while her limited edition Banc Tribal bench (from €48,000) – a functional sculpture from 2014, crafted in bronze and leather – is inspired by traditional African patterns. Not all of Donat’s work is created in darker, heavier hues, however – a case in point is Table Basse Anneaux (from €65,000) from 2008, its low silver surface engraved with circles that evoke a filigreed effect.
Other standouts include a bronze Miroir Grenade (from €28,000) with an imposing frame inspired by reptile skin, her imposing blackened Buffet Cisco side cabinet (first picture, from €175,000) and the heavyweight, etched Bibliothèque Murale en 5 Eléments shelving system (from €240,000) – all statement-making pieces that have been created in extremely limited editions.
A companion monograph by Anne Bony, with a forward by Marino, touches on everything from Donat’s earliest sculptures to her current Engrenages series, and has an imprinted cover surface that calls to mind the artist’s patterned work.