Mourning Francisco González Gragera, creator of Capricho de Cotrina

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André Hardy, Le Jardin Extraordinaire/The Extraordinary Garden

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About the Artist/Site

Around age fifty, in 1971, ironworker Hardy began creating sculptures of a wide range of animals and figures, displaying them in the yard around his home in the small Normand village of Saint-Quentin-les-Chardonnets. Most of them were created out of reinforced concrete, and then painted; some, however, used found objects as their infrastructure, like a bicycle ornamented with shells. The works ranged in scale, but many were relatively true to life-size, and most were easily viewable from the road.

Among the figures were locals—a farmer ploughing behind a team of oxen, a couple riding in the back of a cart, a woman holding a lantern, a farmer milking a cow while smoking a cigarette, a drinker with his wine bottle, a fisherman, a woman holding a parasol to shield herself from the sun. There were also a range of animals, from the domestic and local—horses, dogs, squirrels, deer, pigs, etc. —to the exotic—including a giraffe, zebra, lion, whale, camel, ostrich, and elephant. Miniature versions of buildings including the Eiffel Tower shared space with garden furniture and windmills but also with a miniature airplane, helicopter, and jeep. The painting was meticulous on every work, and the surface adornment was clever and beautifully crafted.

Hardy continued to create works for almost forty years, although in his later years he concentrated on conserving and rehabilitating his pieces, rather than creating new ones. As he approached ninety years old, he and his wife sold their home and moved to an assisted living facility for the elderly.  By March 2011 photos show that the site had already degraded; although some works were still painted and standing in place, others, including the large ostrich, had fallen over; some works were already missing, and others were beginning to deteriorate.

In early 2011 it had been announced that Hardy’s works were available for sale via the website of Grenier de Marco, a Normand company that deals in surplus materials; his works were offered as “art brut pour jardin [art brut for the garden]” but prices were not advertised, and that web page has now been taken down.  Some of the works were purchased by the Lille (France) Art Museum, and others were sold to private collectors, a means by which the new owner was able to earn some money while trying to avoid having the sculptures end up at the dump.

André Hardy died in March 2013. His Extraordinary Garden is no longer extant.

~Jo Farb Hernández



 



Map and site information

Not Exact Address
Saint-Quentin-les-Chardonnets, Lower Normandy, France
Latitude/Longitude: 48.784852 / -0.759988

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