François-Xavier (1927 – 2008) is renowned for his large-scale sculpture animals that often contain secret compartments or double as functional furniture, such as his 1964 Rhinocrataire – a life-size rhino with a desk concealed in its stomach. Claude (b1924) has been recognised for her flora-inspired jewelry and sculptures that are made by employing contemporary electro-plating techniques.
The exhibition Domesticated Beasts & Other Creatures, held at the Whitechapel Gallery in 1976 launched their career, and gradually, as the couple were acknowledged in retrospectives and commissions in France, their pieces entered important international collections through the championing of their work by interior designers and tastemakers. In particular, François-Xavier’s realistic bronze cast sheep, alongside lily vanes casts by Claude, were displayed in the library of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé. Furthermore, their work became part of the eclectic collection of Gunther Sachs, displayed in his penthouse at the Palace Hotel at St Moritz. The English artist Allan Jones once recalled staying in Sachs’ St Moritz penthouse, stating: “It was the most ritzy place I had ever been in. One wall of the apartment seemed to be entirely glass, with a breath-taking view of the Alps. There were Lichtenstein panels around the bathroom, a flock of Lalanne sheep on the carpet and the set of my sculptures.”
The Lalannes’ work has been growing in popularity and in recent years achieved iconic status, propelled by the 2009 Christie’s Paris sale of Yves Saint Laurent’s collection and enhanced by a major retrospective at Musée des Arts Decoratifs in Paris in 2010, curated by one of their most ardent fans, the architect Peter Marino, who owns around 40 works by the artists. Their cult-like following has grown exponentially and now includes private collectors from around the world such as Tom Ford, Karl Lagerfeld, Marc Jacobs, François Pinault and Bernard Arnault.
Several of François-Xavier’s iconic pieces will be exhibited: his famous Moutons Transhumant (1991) and Moutons de Laine (1965/1974), a flock of woolly sheep used as seating arrangements are presented along with Babouin (1984), a cast-iron baboon whose stomach doubles as fireplace.
At the age of 91, Claude is still actively producing artworks from her home and studio near Fontainebleau, France, and for this exhibition she has produced a number of new sculptures including Choupatte (2015), an oversized bronze cabbage head with birdlike talons. Choupatte is amongst Claude’s most recognisable artworks and a design that has frequented her work over the last five decades. Also included in the exhibition will be Pomme d’Hiver (2015), Pomme (Moyenne) (2011/2012) and Crocodile Banquette (2012/2013) a bronze and brass bench designed around interwoven crocodile shapes.
Claude & François-Xavier Lalanne at Robilant+Voena from 17 February to 27 March 2017.
Press release provided by the gallery