Celebrated Parisian artists, François-Xavier and Claude Lalanne, spent five decades working together at their house and studio near Fontainebleau. Now Sotheby’s will be providing observers and fans of Parisian art with a complete, first look into the influence of naturalism on Claude and François- Xavier Lalanne’s oeuvre. A total of 280 works are set to be exhibited from 19th-23rd October, followed by a two-day auction titled, “L’Univers Lalanne” from the 23rd to the 24th of October in Paris.
The collection will also feature works of friends of the artistic couple, who had an irrevocable influence on the shaping and development of their work, including Niki de Saint Phalle, Jean Tinguely, Max Ernst, William N. Copley, Jasper Johns and Elaine Sturtevant.
The Birth of “Les Lalanne”
Publicly known as “Les Lalanne”, the couple are renowned for inserting the world of the fantastical and whimsical into the familiar and rational, thus evoking an elusive, dream-like reality for spectators. As “Les Lalanne”, the couple received commissions from the highly-celebrated French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent.
Before the formation of the artistic duo, François-Xavier Lalanne was an installation artist and sculptor. He reinvented domestic items, such as furniture and transformed them to embody animal and mythological imagery. His reasons behind the distortion of domesticity in sculptures were, “It is, after all, easier to have a sculpture in an apartment than to have a real sheep. And, it’s even better if you can sit on it.”
It was shortly after his move to the Académie Julian in Paris to study art, that he met Claude Dupeux – the woman with whom he was to build his artistic legacy. Born in 1924, Claude Dupeux read architecture at the École des Beaux-Arts and the École des Arts Décoratifs, and after her marriage to François-Xavier Lalanne, she worked alongside her husband to design a number of pieces. “Lalanne” was thus born and though the couple worked together on innovative transformations of the domestic, such as the classic “sheep bench”, they equally committed themselves to projects of their own. Claude captured her love of nature and the fantastical in her flamboyant, 2016 bronze sculpture, Choupatte Géante, which was also a tribute to her husband.
Speaking of the inspiration behind the towering, bronze sculpture, Claude confessed in an interview “I had taken a mould of a cabbage and just wondered what it would look like with legs – the moment I saw it, it felt right. It had emotion.”
“L’Univers Lalanne” or the “Universe of Lalanne” will thus invite spectators to immerse themselves into the surrealist world moulded and fashioned by Les Lalanne. In addition to the “L’Univers Lalanne”, Sotheby’s will be presenting Claude’s Bureau Crocodile or “Crocodile Desk”, an intriguing installation of the wild onto the domestic. Claude thereby achieves the near impossible feat of “containing the wild” in her surrealist, furniture pieces. Alternatively, examples of François-Xavier’s furniture and art unions to be showcased are the Grand Mouflon de Pauline, a large cabinet that has been designed as a mouflon wild sheep and Rhinocrétaire or “Rhinodesk”, a bureau that is disguised via its placement within a bronze rhinoceros.
The duo had an irrevocable influence on the arts, that extended into the world of fashion, as designer Yves Saint Laurent chose Claude as the only artist he liaised with. After her husband’s passing in 2008, Claude continued to fashion new sculptures until her own death this year in April. Encapsulating five decades of art, “L’Univers Lalanne” shares Les Lalanne’s adoration of nature with their collection of distorted, fantastical domesticity.
Exhibition Dates – Paris
SAT, 19 OCT 19 | 11:00 AM – 07:00 PM CEST
SUN, 20 OCT 19 | 10:00 AM – 06:00 PM CEST
MON, 21 OCT 19 | 10:00 AM – 06:00 PM CEST
TUE, 22 OCT 19 | 10:00 AM – 06:00 PM CEST
WED, 23 OCT 19 | 10:00 AM – 06:00 PM CEST