CHIC SHEEP DON’T COME CHEAP: THE WHIMSICAL WORLD OF LES LALANNE







“They are not furniture, they are not sculpture – call them ‘Lalannes.”

– Claude Lalanne –


“The supreme art is the art of living.”

– François-Xavier Lalanne –







Rhinos, hippos, alligators, apes, monkeys, bulls, bears, hares, chickens, sheep…



 Fret not. A-Gent of Style doesn’t house a ménagerie at home.

A collection of wild and domestic animals is currently on show at Sotheby’s
in New York but instead of being alive, running free or even stuffed, they are in fact part of Les Lalanne: The Poetry of Sculpture, a selling exhibition organised by the auction house featuring whimsical works by Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne, hosted in the New York S|2 private sales gallery from 31 October
through 22 November 2013.




The French artist couple’s most iconic and sought-after works chosen and curated by Paul Kasmin, a long-time gallerist of the duo, and Michael Shvo, an avid collector of the works, are exhibited in a space transformed into a “midnight garden and thereby evoke the surrealist sculptors’ magical world in which their life and art were intertwined since the 1960’s.”



If you believe in François-Xavier’s credo “The supreme art is the art of living”, then the pieces below currently up for grab at Sotheby’s might be for you; some of them, including their signature curly sheep, date back to the 1990s whilst others were created in the last decade and a few were made by Claude Lalanne in the last few years. You can view the full listing here. Desperate to be in New York now doesn’t even start to describe how A-Gent of Style feels at the moment.


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The 89-year-old Claude Lalanne, whose age hasn’t slowed (she goes to her Ury studio every day starting at 8 a.m), attended last month the opening reception at Sotheby’s with Michael Shvo (François-Xavier Lalanne died in 2008).

Michael Shvo and Claude Lalanne

Michael Shvo and Claude Lalanne



Throughout the decades, Lalanne’s surrealist and mischievous objets have always been prized and appreciated by collectors but in recent years, they have been appearing in many gallery and museum shows and major design auctions.
The latest and largest gathering of Lalannes was the retrospective
at Le Musée des Arts Décoratifs in 2010 in Paris.




A Rhino screen designed by Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne made an appearance at PAD a few weeks ago at the Galerie Jean-David Botella.



This sale will be no exception and prices are most likely to go through the roof.
The estimates ranging from $20,000 to $1.5 million will probably top the sky-high prices Lalannes generally command. In 2008, the year of François-Xavier’s death, one of his sheep stools sold for more than double the estimate, at $158,50.
On December 2012 in New York, a pair of Lalanne sheep stool sculptures sell for $542,500. And in December 2011, a group of ten sheep, “Mouton de Pierre” designed circa 1979, sold for $7.5 million at Christie’s New York.




Crocodile Banquette, a gilt-bronze and copper crocodile bench designed
by Claude Lalanne in 2008, was sold by Christie’s for $482,500 in December 2009.


Kasmin-Shvo also curated another show in New York featuring Lalanne works called ‘The Sheep Station’ on display at a former Getty station turned grass station in Chelsea, Manhattan, where twenty-five life -size sculptures of the iconic epoxy stone and bronze “Moutons” of Francois-Xavier Lalanne grazed.
Claude Lalanne also attended the opening party which took place on the grass. The show, which ended last week, is the first of a series of installations on the site that has been dubbed Getty Station. It must have been quite a scene to turn the corner of a block and suddenly see this faux pastoral landscape.









Claude and François-Xavier met in 1952 and started their working collaboration in 1956. They both shared a passion for animals and nature; their first exhibition in 1964 was called “Zoophites”. Until François-Xavier’s death, the inseparable couple always worked and exhibited together. They have often been regarded as a single entity hence their moniker ‘Les Lalanne’ (family names don’t take the plural form in French) but seldom collaborated on a piece of work.


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Generally speaking, Claude’s works tend to be inspired by botanicals and are therefore delicate and intricate sometimes baroque; they are on the cusp of fine art and decorative art and can be used as jewellery, furniture and silverware. She uses traditional casting techniques with contemporary electroplating methods.









Her equally inventive late husband François-Xavier, on the other hand, was inspired by wild, hefty animals like the hippopotamus or the rhinoceros and was influenced by ancient Egyptian sculptures. He crafted more weighty, stylized forms using big metal sheets to emphasize his animals’ scale.






The duo always remained true and faithful to their aesthetic tenets and never embraced the various popular movements du moment such as Pop Art and abstraction. Les Lalanne’s world is a realm where Surrealism, Nouveau Réalisme and anthropomorphism merge, where each and every living organism and creation is playful, whimsical and unique and combines the decorative and fine arts. Functionality is also key: their objects can be touched, used, sat or eaten on or even sometimes slept in.








From the 1960s onwards, Les Lalanne captivated a whole generation and soon had a cult following among notable private collectors around the world who either bought their works or even commissioned them bespoke projects. Fashion luminaries such as Coco Chanel, Hubert de Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé,
Karl Lagerfeld, Valentino and more recently Marc Jacobs, John Galliano, Tom Ford and François Pinault are some of the Lalanne’s biggest collecting fans.

Coco Chanel in her Paris apartment, rue Cambon

Coco Chanel in her Paris apartment, rue Cambon




 

    Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge

Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge

 

Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge

Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge

 

Valentino

Valentino

 

Marc Jabos Paris apartment

Marc Jabobs Paris apartment

 

Tom Ford Madison Avenue flagship lalanne

Tom Ford Madison Avenue flagship, New York

 

By Peter Marino

By Peter Marino



In 1969, the Lalannes collaborated with Yves Saint Laurent for one of his collections: they designed moulded bronze breastplates and bustiers that served as the bodice of a gown for the model Veruschka, three decades before Jean-Paul Gaultier’s conical bras for HR Madgeness.

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In 1976, Serge Gainsbourg notoriously named one of his most successful albums  L’Homme à Tête de Chou (literally The Man with the Cabbage Head) after acquiring a sculpture by Claude Lalanne which Gainsbourg featured on the album cover.





Today, it is not uncommon to come across in design publications
Lalanne flora-and-fauna pieces of art in the elegant and eclectic homes of serious collectors. A-Gent of Style always finds it entertaining to be able to spot a Lalanne – or a Polar Bear as a matter of fact.

Reed-Krakoff apartment, New York, designed by Pamplemousse Design

Reed-Krakoff’s apartment, New York, designed by Delphine Krakoff of Pamplemousse Design. Spot the Lalanne, spot the Polar Bear

 




By Jean-Louis Deniot

By Jean-Louis Deniot

 

By Peter Marino, FAIA

By Peter Marino

 

By Brian McCarthy

By Brian McCarthy

 

Carla Fendi’s Roman apartment

 




The latest monograph on Les Lalanne was published in 2007 and authored by two long-standing Lalanne devotees, the architect Peter Marino and Reed Krakoff, President and Executive Creative Director of Coach and husband of the talented Delphine Krakoff of Pamplemousse Design.




By Rose Anne de Pampelonne

By Rose Anne de Pampelonne

 

Claude Lalanne, Peter Marino and Michael Shvo

Claude Lalanne, Peter Marino and Michael Shvo



Chic sheep are not cheap!

Some of the Lalanne sheep were also featured last month in A-Gent of Style‘s retrospective for The Campaign for Wool.





4 comments


  • Always happy to come across a single image of the beautiful works of Les Lalanne so this was a real treat! With Lamb as a last name you can imagine the number of sheep inspired objects I own and have been gifted-but alas no Les Lalanne. But working hard to change that 😉

    March 28, 2016
  • Very good info. Lucky me I discovered your site by accident (stumbleupon).
    I have saved as a favorite for later!

    April 13, 2016
  • Michel Brousson

    J’adore Les Lalannes! Leur art est très fantastique…

    August 14, 2016
  • […] You can read the article entitled, “Chic Sheep Don’t Come Cheap,” here. […]

    September 9, 2016

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