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)
Books And it is whizzpopping!
MusicThey're running their own restaurants
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Kate Winslet thanked 'particularly horrible' girl who bullied her at school after Titanic success
- 2 Australia to impose 24-hour curfew on all cats to protect endangered species
- 3 The difference between a psychopath and a sociopath
- 4 Black and ethnic minority people twice as likely to be hit by Tory cuts than white people, report finds
- 5 Walter Palmer: Cecil the lion killer revealed to be American dentist
Conan O'Brien accused of stealing jokes from Twitter, could have to pay hundreds of thousands in damages
Child Genius: the Final, Channel 4 - TV review: Top marks to the child prodigies but mum and dad should take a bow too
Top Gear: Jenson Button reportedly joining Chris Evans as replacement host
Game of Thrones season 6: New toy line suggests Jon Snow is not among the dead
Game of Thrones season 6 set photos leak online
Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn says 'we can learn a great deal from Karl Marx'
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
The last thing Labour needs is a leader like Jeremy Corbyn who people want to vote for
I am the Jeremy Corbyn supporter that many will tell you doesn't exist
Public anger after French sunbather beaten up by gang for wearing a bikini in Reims park
Labour leadership: New poll shows party is now even 'less electable' than under Ed Miliband