Claude Lalanne

Claude Lalanne was one of the most celebrated French sculptors and designers of the 20th century. Her whimsical work, often made side by side with her sculptor husband François-Xavier Lalanne, explored a deep interest in nature and organic forms. Together, the couple are known as ‘Les Lalanne’.

Claude Lalanne nearly always worked in bronze. Some of her best-known sculptures, which often doubled as furniture, include chandeliers adorned with butterflies, her ‘Ginkgo’ chair, and a bronze cabbage that’s sprouted a pair of chicken’s legs.

‘I had taken a mould of a cabbage and just wondered what it would look like with legs,’ the artist recalled of the latter’s origin. ‘The moment I saw it, it felt right. It had emotion.’

Her sculpture of a man with a cabbage for a head, called L’Homme à Tête de Chou, also featured on the cover of Serge Gainsbourg’s 1976 album of the same name.

Claude Lalanne was born in Paris in 1925. She was one of only a few women to study architecture at the city’s École des Beaux-Arts, later also training at the École des Arts Décoratifs. She met her husband in 1952; not long after they began sharing a studio in Montparnasse and moving in Surrealist circles. Their neighbour was the sculptor Constantin Brancusi, whilst Salvador Dalí, Man Ray and Max Ernst became their friends.

In 1964, Claude and François-Xavier opened their first joint exhibition, Zoophites, at Galerie J in Paris. The show caught the attention of the Greek art dealer Alexander Iolas, who was known for introducing American audiences to European Surrealism and the work of Andy Warhol. He displayed the couple’s sculptures in Paris in 1966, then helped them secure their big international break: an exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1967.

Despite exhibiting together, the pair rarely worked as collaborators. Claude did collaborate with a number of fashion designers, including Yves Saint Laurent, Hubert de Givenchy and Karl Lagerfeld.

After Claude’s death in 2019, the French president Emmanuel Macron issued a statement saluting her ‘imagination, humour and poetry.’ A trove of works left behind in the pair’s workshop at Ury, near Fontainebleau, was split between the couple’s four daughters.

In December 2022, their daughter Marie Lalanne offered her share of over 150 pieces, including furniture, jewellery and one of Claude’s celebrated apple sculptures, at Christie’s. The collection totalled $77 million. Claude’s top lot of the sale was the bronze cabbage sculpture Très Grand Choupatte (2014), which realised $3.5 million.

CLAUDE LALANNE (1925-2019)

Les Grands Sphinx , 2000

CLAUDE LALANNE (1925-2019)

'Branchettes' Table, 2006

CLAUDE LALANNE (1925-2019)

'Branchettes' Table, 2006

CLAUDE LALANNE (1925-2019)

LUSTRE 'STRUCTURE VÉGÉTALE' AUX PAPILLONS À SEIZE BOUGIES, PIÈCE UNIQUE, 2003

CLAUDE LALANNE (NEE EN 1924)

ENSEMBLE DE QUINZE MIROIRS AUX BRANCHAGES, 1974-1985

CLAUDE LALANNE (1925-2019)

Lustre ‘Structure Végé tale’ aux papillons à seize bougies, piè ce unique, 2009

CLAUDE LALANNE née en 1925

Miroir en pied Aux Branchages , pièce unique , 1993

CLAUDE LALANNE (NÉE EN 1925)

LUSTRE 'STRUCTURE VÉGÉTALE', PIÈCE UNIQUE, 1996

CLAUDE LALANNE (1925-2019)

Table 'Lotus et Singes', 2013

CLAUDE LALANNE (1925-2019)

Fauteuil 'Crocodile', 2016

CLAUDE LALANNE (1925-2019)

Pomme de Jardin Rouge , 2014

CLAUDE LALANNE (1925-2019)

Large 'Ginkgo' Low Table, 2015

CLAUDE LALANNE (1925-2019)

Unique 'Structure Végétale' Chandelier, 2013

CLAUDE LALANNE (1925-2019)

'Crocodile' Settee, 2013

FRANÇOIS-XAVIER LALANNE (1927-2008)

Singe Avisé (moyen) , 2014

CLAUDE LALANNE (1925-2019)

Petite Olympe Fountain, 2003

CLAUDE LALANNE (1925-2019)

Miroir, pièce unique, 2015

CLAUDE LALANNE (Née en 1925)

BUREAU CROCO , 2008

Claude Lalanne (1925-2019)

'Pomme Moyenne'

CLAUDE LALANNE (1925-2019)

Petit Banc Crocodile , 2016

CLAUDE LALANNE (1924-2019)

Unique 'Structure végétale avec singes' Chandelier

CLAUDE LALANNE (NÉE EN 1925)

SUITE DE QUATRE APPLIQUES, LE MODÈLE CRÉÉ EN 1992, CELLES-CI RÉALISÉES EN 1996

CLAUDE LALANNE née en 1925

Love-seat , 1972

CLAUDE LALANNE (NÉE EN 1925)

Fauteuil 'Crocodile', le modèle créé en 2014, celui-ci réalisé en 2016

CLAUDE LALANNE (1925-2019)

'Hosta' Mirror, 2012

CLAUDE LALANNE (1924-2019)

Pair of 'Sphinxes', 2000

CLAUDE LALANNE (1925-2019)

Lotus et Singe Table, 2013

CLAUDE LALANNE (1925-2019)

Lustre aux papillons 'Structure végétale' à neuf lumières, pièce unique, 2008

CLAUDE LALANNE (1925-2019)

Singe Douche , 2012

CLAUDE LALANNE (1925-2019)

'Ginkgo' Dining Table, 1999

CLAUDE LALANNE (1925-2019)

Torchère , 1994

CLAUDE LALANNE (1925-2019)

'Les Grandes Berces' Bench, 2009

CLAUDE LALANNE (1925-2019)

'CHOUPATTE', PETIT MODÈLE, PIÈCE UNIQUE, 2000

CLAUDE LALANNE (Née en 1925)

TABLE LOTUS ET SINGE , 2007

CLAUDE LALANNE (1925-2019)

Lit au branchage et à la chouette, pièce unique, 2004

CLAUDE LALANNE (1925-2019) ET FRANÇOIS-XAVIER LALANNE (1927-2008)

Paire de tables 'Singe aux nénuphars', le modèle créé en 2007, celles-ci réalisées en 2008

CLAUDE LALANNE (1925-2019)

'Caroline enceinte', le modèle créé en 1969, celui-ci réalisé en 1984

CLAUDE LALANNE (1925-2019)

Ginkgo Table, 2010

CLAUDE LALANNE née en 1925

Table lotus et singe , 2012

CLAUDE LALANNE (1925-2019)

Pair of 'Ginkgo' Chairs, 1999

CLAUDE LALANNE (1925-2019)

Lanterne Papillons , 2018

CLAUDE LALANNE (Née en 1925)

TABOURET CROCOCURULE , 2008

CLAUDE LALANNE NÉE EN 1925

Miroir à la vigne vierge et au lézard, pièce unique, 1987

CLAUDE LALANNE (1925-2019)

'Singerie' Armchair, 2014

CLAUDE LALANNE (1925-2019)

Pair of 'Ginkgo' Chairs, 1999

CLAUDE LALANNE (1925-2019)

Pair of 'Ginkgo' Chairs, 1999

CLAUDE LALANNE (1925-2019)

'Trône de Pauline', le modèle créé en 1990, celui-ci réalisé en 2004

CLAUDE LALANNE (b. 1924)

'GINKGO' AN ALUMINUM LOW TABLE, DESIGNED 1997