Above: ‘Male’ and ‘Female’ lamps. Photo: Galerie Chastel Marechal
I do not like to be bored, or to bore others. I love and want easy, pleasant playful things and of which the utility, in the end, will depend on the imagination and the desires of the individual.
With works that might very well be the embodiment of irony, French artist and designer Yonel Lebovici was perhaps one of the most unabashed practitioners of French pop design. With a whimsical approach that often drew upon everyday objects and presenting it to the world in a gigantic proportions, Lebovici tossed aside any pretense of yielding to the correlative restrictions of form and function and fully embraced the creative liberty of the 1960’s and 1970’s.
Born in Paris in 1937 Yonel Lebovici, or Lebo as he was called by friends and family, was enthusiastic about art from a young age. His enthusiasm and delight for the arts, including sculpting, painting, and drawing was equaled by his abiding passion for collecting. In a life of unexpected turns Lebovici first earned a degree in aeronautics and another from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Appliqués, then took drawing courses at La Grande Chaumière. After working for a short period with the SNCASE aeronautics company, where he started his long fascination with lightweight aluminum, he found himself, inexplicably, working as a test pilot. And, even more unexpected still, he left this job to work as a be-bop dancer in Saint Germain des Prés. Lebovici was a man who liked to explore life and live it fully and joyfully – expressed well in the many items he created.
The weird and wonderful world of Yonel Lebovici. Click on image for full view3040 false true true false true true false auto false ease-in-out 300 auto false 0 true true
In Lebovici’s works – pieces he liked to call “functional sculptures” – we see the manifestations of a desire to never being trapped by the tedium of the familiar. Ironically, in cases like the enormous safety pin light, Lebovici presents us with an ordinary and familiar object and makes it exceptional by enlargement and then, in a humorous twist, turns it into a floor lamp. If there is one theme that permeates Lebovici’s work it would be that of fun. And even though one is sometimes left with the question of exactly for whose entertainment it is – whether simply for Lebovici himself or the viewer – all of his works are a reflection of a man with a unique view on the world, a man who eschewed boredom, and being boring. Yonel Lebovici passed away, at the relatively young age of 60, in 1998.