Here’s your last chance to snap up these recently discovered artworks by Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne, pioneers of the surrealist movement in the 20th century
Having risen to fame for their unique style underpinned by surrealist sensibility and whimsical humour, Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne, collectively known as Les Lalanne, were warmly embraced by art aficionados since the 1960s. You may have come across a few of their iconic pieces, such as the exquisite Hippopotame I bathtub, a three-metre brass hippo painted in vibrant blue, and the Choupatte, a bronze sculpture featuring a cabbage perched atop chicken feet.
Their idiosyncratic style, defying any categorisation, has brought them a cult-like following. Their fame was further propelled by prestigious commissions from Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé. Noteworthy among the pieces that Les Lalanne have created is the custom-made bar housed in the fashion designer’s apartment at Place Vauban, which fetched a staggering sum of over two million euros in 2009.
The couple’s home-cum-studio, located in Ury near Fontainebleau, France, was a sanctuary for their artistic endeavours. Following François-Xavier’s death in 2008 and Claude’s in 2019, their cherished creations were made available for enthusiastic collectors. The landmark 2019 Sotheby’s Paris auction witnessed every one of the 274 lots snapped up, while a subsequent Christie’s auction in December 2022 achieved an impressive milestone with a record-breaking US$77 million in sales.
Just as the world thought it had glimpsed the entirety of Les Lalanne’s legacy, a secret cache of their artworks recently come to light, hidden within a room behind two of François-Xavier’s bronze bull sculptures. This treasure trove, comprising 19 masterpieces, now beckons those who have yet to get their hands on Les Lalanne’s legacy.
At the auction, collectors can anticipate pieces that embody the couple’s iconic aesthetic sensibility. The artworks up for sale include a ginko bench and Claude’s iconic apple sculpture, the Pomme de Londre (pictured above). Fans of their naturalistic work can keep an eye on the Tourterelle, a dove-shaped aluminium armchair, and the Âne Planté, a donkey cleverly doubling as a flower pot. But it is probably François-Xavier’s Boîte de Sardines that commands the limelight. The tin-shaped bed, brimming with sardine pillows, was originally created for an exhibition at the Leo Castelli gallery and later reclaimed by Les Lalanne through a Sotheby’s auction in 2005.
The auction will commence on 4 October 2023 at Sotheby’s Paris. The public can also visit the exhibition from 30 September to 3 October 2023. More information here.