Galerie Mélissa Paul

Andrée & Michel Hirlet

The Hirlets met in 1958 at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Appliqués et des Métiers d’Art, a graduate art school housed, at the time, in the building that is now the Picasso Museum. They both had general art backgrounds, but it was the technical, hands-on work of ceramics that captivated them. After they married, they moved into the ramshackle site dedicated to their ceramic practice. Working outside of any wider artistic community or movement, and through intuitive collaboration, they have created a vernacular all their own, experimenting with bold colors and developing a unique approach to form that appears at once ancient and strikingly contemporary. Much of the work is glazed ceramic sculptures made from interlocking geometric segments that appear to have been puzzled together. This technique, Andrée explains, was born of happenstance: “We started to receive some larger orders and the kiln was too small, so we had to cut them up and assemble them together afterward.” Until now, the couple has kept a low international profile, focusing on exhibitions, commissions and public works projects in Europe, such as a labyrinth-like 36-foot-long water fountain in the French town of Saintes and giant hand-shaped public benches for the town of Villepreux, near Versailles.