The artist duo Les Deux Garçons, Michel Vanderheijden van Tinteren (1965) and Roel Moonen (1966), create a diverse oeuvre that consists of collages, assemblages, paintings and bronze sculptures. But the artists mainly focus on the unlikely and exciting terrain of mounted animals (taxidermy), which includes them with the modern animaliers, animal sculptors. The artists find their materials at taxidermists and in zoos; never on the free market, because the origin of an animal can be unclear in that case. For collecting and keeping protected animal species, also in art works, apply strict rules in the Netherlands. The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries monitors the so-called CITES convention, an international agreement to control the trade in protected animal species. Those who want to buy, sell or transport a CITES protected species in the Netherlands and within the EU must have the correct certificates. The animals included in the works of Les Deux Garçons have thus died naturally and are obtained legally.
At first sight the works might look fun, but the animals of Les Deux Garçons have a serious message. The artists want to draw attention to the problem of climate change and encourage the public to gain greater respect for the earth. Their exhibited work symbolizes the worrying state in which nature is at the moment. Endangered species like giraffes and tigers balance on the edge of the abyss, in a state of almost dreaming they await the moment when the earth will find its natural balance again. This explains title choices such as Les rêveurs gelés (The frozen dreamers) and La naissance de l’équilibre (The origin of the balance).
Les Deux Garçons are becoming more and more known, both at home and abroad. Their work is shown at art and design fairs, including the Salone del Mobile in Milan and the Ludwig Forum Aachen, but also in museums such as the Haags Gemeente Museum, the Stedelijk Museum Schiedam and the Schielandshuis in Rotterdam. During the exhibition ‘Bloedmooi’, held at the Schielandhuis, their pieces were shown with those of celebrities like Jan Fabre, Jean Paul Gaultier and Maison Givenchy. Choreographer Nanine Linning asked them in 2011 to design the costumes and sculptures for her acclaimed show ‘Requiem’. A year later Les Deux Garçons were the center of a retrospective at the Stedelijk Museum Zwolle and in 2016 they got a retrospective in the museum at the Vrijthof in Maastricht. The works of Les Deux Garçons can also be admired in a number of collections, including those from the Beelden aan Zee museum and in private collections such as of Safia El Malqui in Monaco and the Niarchos Foundation in St. Moritz.