Close-up: Rungwe Kingdon & Claude Koenig
When Damien Hirst goes large, who does he turn to? His 'hands'
Sunday 16 November 2008
Rungwe Kingdon and Claude Koenig are responsible for some of the world's greatest works of art – sculptures that tour the most prestigious galleries and fetch dizzying sums in the auction houses of London and New York – yet outside the whitewashed walls of the art world, their names are seldom heard. "That's because we're not artists," says Kingdon. "We are founders."
At Pangolin Editions, their foundry in Gloucestershire, the duo help some of art's biggest names realise their visions. Recent projects include Damien Hirst's Virgin Mother, a 35ft bronze of a pregnant woman that dominated the courtyard of London's Royal Academy of Arts in 2006.
Koenig is happy working in the shadows ("You could say we are Hirst's hands," she says) while Kingdon compares his foundry to an orchestra: "When you listen to Beethoven you don't wonder who's the first violinist. We're comfortable in that role."
The husband-and-wife team met at art school; sculpture had fascinated them both as children. "Claude's first casts were lead poured into snails' shells," Kingdon says. "I'd cast lizards in plaster. It was like making your own fossils – it was like magic."
Pangolin is best known for its bronzes but has just finished working with 50 artists to produce silver sculptures. Their exhibition, opening tomorrow, includes an aborted foetus by Antony Gormley and a Hirst called Grotesque Unicorn, which includes a flayed bull's head with a swordfish blade that looks like a chainsaw.
The work is likely to be worth more than its weight in silver should it be sold (Hirst netted a record £111m at a Sotheby's auction of his new work in September), but the huge sums "his" works often fetch aren't galling for Kingdon. "Bring it on!" he says. "Everybody in the art world thrives in the light that shines on Hirst. Long may it continue."
'Sterling Stuff II' is showing at Kings Place, London N1, from tomorrow to 18 January (020 7520 1490, www.kingsplace.co.uk)
TV Jungle security stepped up after murder and 'suspicious death' near to camp
Jeff Fletcher found fame in 1990s
'At times I thought he was me'film
Review: One Direction, Fourmusic
Review: The World of Ice and Firebooks
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 I'm A Celebrity 2014: Jungle security stepped up after murder and 'suspicious death' near to camp
- 2 Black Friday 2014: Opening times for Asda, John Lewis, PC World, GAME and Argos
- 3 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 4 Girl, 7, gets Tesco to remove 'stupid' sign suggesting superheroes are 'for boys'
- 5 Jeremy Hunt: 'I took my children to A&E because I didn't want to wait for GP appointment'
Jurassic World trailer: Chris Pratt stars in full-length trailer with Bryce Dallas and Ty Simpkins
I'm A Celebrity 2014: Jungle security stepped up after murder and 'suspicious death' near to camp
Zoella: YouTube sensation Zoe Sugg's debut novel set to become bestseller
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs
Naked free runner captured in breathtaking photographs above London's streets
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police