NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED DURING THIS COLLAB
TUESDAY AUGUST 22, 2017
WORDS BY THE EDITORS
INTERVIEW BY HUMBERTO LEON
PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRAYDEN OLSON
STYLING BY JAMIE ORTEGA
Opening Ceremony Re-Editions revives our Deyrolle inspired collab from 2010 as OC co-founder Humberto Leon interviews the 186-year-old taxidermy company with an animal rights and humanitarian core.
We take a trip back in time to France, in the year 2010 and knock on the front door of Deyrolle, a premiere Parisian institution for taxidermy, natural sciences, and entomology. The museum-like shop has been open since 1831, and up until we showed up, they had never done a collaboration before. We found ourselves re-walking the halls of 46 Rue du Bac, peering through the glass cases of curiosities and re-finding the inspiration from the familiarity of the foxes to the exoticness of the African beetle. Working with photographer Bastien Lattanzio, we captured the animals and insects that line the cases. The photographs would be turned into kaleidoscope like prints, immortalized on a silk jersey to create our 2010 Deyrolle Pour OC collaboration.
OC creative director and co-founder Humberto Leon sits down with Deyrolle to talk about the company's beginnings 186 years ago and it’s never wavering humanitarian core.
HUMBERTO LEON: The Deyrolle shop has been around since Emile Deyrolle opened the first location in 1831. How do you attract new customers and keep the store from feeling outdated, while still preserving its history?
DEYROLLE: Deyrolle is a scientific and pedagogical institution that was created in 1831. Temple of observation of Nature, reference in the field of taxidermy and entomology, Deyrolle is also today a unique Cabinet of Curiosities whose exceptional collections inspire artists, collectors, and visitors from all around the world. From the surrealists André Breton and Salvador Dali to contemporary artists such as Damien Hirst or Huang Yong Ping, Deyrolle continues to reveal, through exhibitions and collaborations, the strong links between Nature, Science, and Art. But Deyrolle also continues its educational vocation historically initiated with the educational charts—on zoology, botany, anatomy, leçons de chooses … —which was hanging on classroom walls in many countries from the 19th century. Today, Deyrolle puts at the center of its activities the Transmission value, through Deyrolle pour l’Avenir, which publishes educational material on sustainable development and contemporary environmental and societal issues. The source of artistic inspiration for one, learning partner for others, the vocation of this legendary Parisian institution is to observe Nature and its beauty to allow to better understand it and preserve it. It is in its relation to an ancient and timeless Nature that Deyrolle draws its modernity.
Over the years you have unveiled new environmental initiatives with the focus on education and sustainability. Can you speak more on that?
Deyrolle is well-known for its pedagogical charts. It all starts around 1871, when Emile Deyrolle gives the company a great impulse by developing everything that concerns the educational material, anatomical models in staff, biology pieces, and most of all, the creation of colored wall charts, published under the name “Musée scolaire Deyrolle”. Intended for different school grades, from the primary to the secondary grades, then the universities, they are meant to teach the “Leçons de choses” (“Lessons of things”) but also Botany, Zoology, Entomology, Geography, Anatomy, Civics, Physics, Chemistry, Geology, Mineralogy, Biology... Image is at the center of this pedagogical approach: this "visual education" is a universal language. From the 1870s, hundreds of subjects are already covered. Deyrolle becomes the 1st supplier of the national Public Instruction and provides schools with its educational charts and material. This publishing activity becomes more and more important with Emile Deyrolle and the creation of new pedagogical charts continues. Those charts even cross borders and are translated in different languages such as Spanish, Portuguese and Arabic. In 2007, Louis Albert de Broglie wants to restart the publishing activity and renews the creation of educational charts: “Deyrolle’s mission was to explain the Earth to people. Now we have to explain how to preserve it”. A new collection of educational charts is launched under the name Deyrolle pour l’Avenir (DPA) –‘Deyrolle for the future’ in French – to tackle contemporary environmental and societal issues. Those charts set the essential knowledge on a topic, and by placing the drawing at the heart of its tools, DPA reiterates the universal language initiated by Deyrolle. The drawings are handmade and they are characterised by their beauty and the attention to details. This new collection has now 150 charts. In 2014, Hoëbeke Editions publishes Deyrolle pour l’Avenir – Comprendre la terre that reunites 50 charts facing quotes to question our vision on Nature. In 2015, Deyrolle is an official partner of the COP 21 for education. Deyrolle pour l’Avenir performs activities for the schools during the COP 21 and organises exhibitions at the Pont d’Iéna and at the UNESCO’s head office in Paris. A second book, Deyrolle pour l'Avenir - Shape the World, published by Hoëbeke, introduces new educational charts questioning the challenges and attempts to answer today’s problems. These tools raise awareness on sustainable development. They are distributed in schools, companies and local authorities, and have also been displayed through exhibitions in France (at the Natural History Museum of Bordeaux, at the Cité des Sciences in Paris…). The distribution has also developed abroad, via international partnerships, notably with the UNESCO (in Gabon, Nigeria or Spain...). Deyrolle pour l’Avenir also creates other pedagogical tools to explain environmental and societal issues (paper and digital).
How do you think preservation plays a role in keeping us connected with nature in this day and age?
Today, Nature is in a real danger and preserving it is our only way to stay connected to it. It is important that people know Nature and its particularities to learn how to act to preserve their environment: this is Deyrolle's mission.
Deyrolle is a big believer in animal rights, so how do you acquire the animals for the taxidermy process? How does this all factor into the company's ethos?
At Deyrolle, animals aren't killed to be mounted: the non-domestic species come from zoos, animal parks, where they died of old age or illness. They are traceable, and protected species are held and delivered in accordance with the Washington Convention (CITES). The selling and buying of animals are strictly regulated and controlled today, which is a very positive thing to fight poaching and to help protect species.
Is there anything you would like to tell our audience to know about taxidermy that they may not already know?
Taxidermy is a very ancient art, and it is first of all pedagogical. In the 19th century, it allowed people who weren't able to travel like today, and at a time when we did not have so many images and pictures, to discover the animals and the beauty of Nature. We always think that, by showing and revealing this beauty, Deyrolle drives people to want to preserve it. It is very impressive, when you walk around the shop at the 46 Rue du Bac, to see all the generations marvel at the specimens in the display. It is very different to see an animal in a picture and to see it close for real, with its full size, hair, and all its characteristics. Children walk in the middle of the animals, besides collectors from all over the world. The public at Deyrolle is incredibly diverse, because Deyrolle is a reflection of Nature, and Nature is universal.
Some pieces Deyrolle has created, like Taurus, are not your "typical" taxidermy. This piece for example, which features butterflies displayed within a bull, is a work of art that represents the fragility and strength of nature. Can you talk a bit about what your collaborative process with various artists involves, and also how science and art can work hand in hand?
Deyrolle’s history is closely linked to the Art world. This unique and unusual place, whose first goal was to teach Natural Sciences to students, also attracts artists from all horizons, looking for inspiration, or coming to Deyrolle to enrich their knowledge or simply to glance around with curiosity and admiration. Painters like Jean Dubuffet, Georges Mathieu, surrealists like Salvador Dali, writers like Louise de Vilmorin or Vladimir Nabokov have been, at the time, eager clients of Deyrolle. This two-hundred-year company is today the last cabinet of curiosities open to the public, which offers the possibility to discover and buy exceptional pieces. Lovers, collectors, scientists and designers from all over the world come to the 46, Rue du Bac to observe the beauty of Nature and to marvel at such astonishing pieces. Deyrolle continues to inspire artists and we perpetuate the close link between Deyrolle and artists today. The shop regularly hosts artists' exhibitions, book signing sessions, and prestigious events, and we have developed unique partnerships with contemporary artists (such as the Cabinet which Damien Hirst created with Deyrolle in 2014). Film directors are not the last to be fond of the Deyrolle collections and sets (Woody Allen, Wes Anderson...). After the fire in 2008, Deyrolle also was a great inspiration for many artists, that collaborated to create art pieces after the remains of the fire (art pieces that were sold during an auction at Christie's, to help rebuild Deyrolle). For example, artist Huang Yong Ping's famous Arche 2009 included many animals coming from the Deyrolle collections. Aurèle, in 2013, imagined a succession of twelve unique pieces named Catch Me If You Can – Collection Aurèle pour Deyrolle. In 2014, in partnership with the BD Barcelona Design Gallery and the Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation, Deyrolle created 21 pieces, numbered and named Xai: they are mounted sheep inspired by a Dali’s painting entitled Etude pour une étable-bibliothèque (1942). Taurus, the art piece you mentioned, was designed by Louis Albert de Broglie (owner of Deyrolle) and the Cabinet Bruno Moinard and created by Deyrolle. Deyrolle will surely continue to be for artists, naturalists and all the curious people in the world, a unique source of inspiration. Its history, which began in 1831, is far from finished.