Danny Lane Unique and monumental 'Mandorla' sculpture, 2003

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Lot 23TP
Danny Lane
Unique and monumental 'Mandorla' sculpture, 2003

Sold for £ 20,062 (US$ 27,755) inc. premium


14 Oct 2020, 14:00 BST

London, New Bond Street

Danny Lane
Unique and monumental 'Mandorla' sculpture, 2003
Hand-cut float glass, stainless steel.
312.5 x 82 x 25 cm


  • Sacred Geometry by Nick Wright

    By defacing the surface of glass Danny Lane invites one to look inside a material designed to be seen through. He makes the invisible visible. It began with a visit to Ron Arad's first shop, an old bicycle store, on Endell Street. Arad was showing tables made with scaffold bases and seeing the glass tops Lane felt he 'could do more'. He noticed a chipped sheet and, with Arad's agreement, took it back to his Hackney studio and polished the broken edge. The safe but still fractured line drew the eye into the seemingly infinite green breadth.

    Having used pliers to replicate accidental breakage, Lane set about the surface. He sandblasted swirls, whorls, scratches and stabs into the glass creating a 'sand blasted drawing'. The jagged pieces, redolent of industrial decline and social facture, sat well on Arad's scaffold bases – and with buyers. French critics coined the term 'ruinism'. Arad, an AA educated architect dislikes it. 'Destruction wasn't on the flag', he says. Lane is less resistant. 'Though the techniques were destructive, they opened up the material to reveal the beauty inherent, its soul'. Both shared a Duchampian quest for what Arad called 'the perfect line'.

    Designed in its entirety by Lane in 1985, the RSJ table comes close to describing that line. A massive steel RSJ serves as a cross-member. Bolted to one end is a plate of pliered glass, welded to the other an even larger steel. The rusted RSJ was sheared using a torch, ripped apart, then hammered by the industrial machinery that Lane was even then salvaging from London's bankrupt engineering industry.

    The RSJ table is elegant despite its scale, avant-garde despite his pillaging of a redundant industrial past for materials. Indeed, when his contemporaries were using scrap Victorian ornament to make whimsical, sometimes historicist, even New Romantic forms, Danny Lane created a brutalist monster piece that remains timeless because it is 'right'. Most designers would have produced a sizable edition. Lane made five, all different – of course - before continuing his own quest; to divine the depth of glass.

    He talks of a conscious break too from making furniture; 'How well I was misplaced'. An American, he had travelled throughout Europe as a young man, entranced by the stained-glass saints illuminating the windows of the great cathedrals. He came to the UK to study glass making under Patrick Reyntiens, took a degree in painting at the Central School of Art and Design, and only though a chance meeting with Ron Arad was he diverted into furniture.

    Design and art are, despite the protestations of many designers, not equivalent; why limit expression to the representation of a chair or lamp when the imagination is, or feels to be, limitless? That said, there is continuity between, and Danny Lane's career demonstrates this.

    Mandorla (a medieval architectural frame enclosing a sacred figure) has no utility beyond the aesthetic. Like any artwork its success must be measured in its ability to 'move' as David Hockney put it 'Art has to move you, design does not, unless it's a good design for a bus'. That and its originality.

    Mandorla succeeds when judged by the first criterion. The pliared edge of each plate draws the eye inside an interior seemingly illuminated by the cold light of a distant sun. Stood before the shard one sees one's reflection as if frozen within. Stand further back and the fall of layered glass awes, not with its scale or technicality of construction, but its elegance despite them. In aesthetic terms Mandorla is a success.

    In terms of originality the sculpture has antecedents; Danny Lane has done this before. The stacked glass sculptures that grace Canary Wharf, The General motors HQ, make up the balustrade in the Victoria and Albert Museum, and Mandorla itself, were prototyped in chairs he made in the 1980s.

    Danny Lane did not break with furniture design. He used techniques developed in furniture to continue his quest. That quest is to divine the depth of a material that has entranced him all his life, glass. It is by his own account a spiritual quest and one his work, furniture and sculpture, permits us to accompany him on. His work moves.

    Bonhams wishes to thank Nick Wright, the author of Cut and Shut: The History of Creative Salvage, London, 2012.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note the following amendment was made to this lot after the catalogue was printed; it should be noted that the lot is made of 'stainless steel' instead of 'chromium-plated metal'. Please also note; The sculpture will remain on view at Bonhams, New Bond Street, and will be de-installed on 27th October.
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Lot will be moved to an offsite storage location (Cadogan Tate, Auction House Services, 241 Acton Lane, London NW10 7NP, UK) and will only be available for collection from this location at the date stated in the catalogue. Please note transfer and storage charges will apply to any lots not collected after 14 calendar days from the auction date.