The surrealist world of the late Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne – the artist duo affectionately known as “Les Lalanne” – takes centre stage at Sotheby’s Paris on October 23 and 24, where 280 works from the pair’s extraordinary private collection will be auctioned.
The cache includes several important sculptures by the duo in addition to works by artist friends – from Niki de Saint Phalle, Jean Tinguely and Max Ernst to William N Copley, Jasper Johns and Elaine Sturtevant – who brought colour to the pair’s home in Ury, France. “I had the privilege of knowing Claude personally and being exposed to the wonders of her universe and her deep affinity with the natural world,” says Mario Tavella, président-directeur général of Sotheby’s France and chairman of Sotheby’s Europe. “It is a great honour to be able to pay tribute to these internationally renowned artists who hold today a fundamental place in the history of French art.”
The works (priced from €100,000 to €600,000) reflect the wit of their poetic oeuvre and include Grand Choupette, a bronze cabbage supported by chicken legs; Claude’s famous Bureau Crocodile desk; her gingko leaf-inspired tables and benches and several pieces of jewellery. François-Xavier’s art and furniture creations include Moutons de Peter (a playful herd of sheep) and his Rhinocrétaire bronze desk.
Highlights of the pieces gifted to the couple include Une Nana Pour Claude by Niki de Saint Phalle; a Raysse painting by Elaine Sturtevant; and a drawing by Yves Saint Laurent that was sent to them from Marrakech in 1969 – all special mementos that are testament to an incredible life.