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'Table aux antilopes', 2007
gilt bronze, glass
34 3⁄4 x 70 7⁄8 x 23 5⁄8 in. (88.3 x 180 x 60 cm)
impressed FxL LALANNE 2007 1⁄1
Galerie Mitterrand, Paris, acquired directly from the artist, 2007
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2007
A. Dannatt, François-Xavier & Claude Lalanne: In the Domain of Dreams, New York, 2018, pp. 126-127 (for a plaster cast of a smaller model)
Further details
Photograph by Marco Pinarelli.

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Lot Essay

François-Xavier and Claude Lalanne are best known for their surrealist sculpture that wonderfully marries art and design, delivering fantastic form with genuine function. “Since the beginning, we wanted to bring sculpture, which is … ‘useless’… to its nature the ‘useful’’ (F.X. Lalanne, quoted by A. Dannatt, in Claude & François-Xavier Lalanne, exh. cat., Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York, 2007, p. 9). Just as their friend and mentor Constantin Brancusi produced works of both aesthetic and applied value, the Lalannes sought to dissolve what they regarded as the artificial boundaries between ‘high’ and ‘low’ art. Rejecting the hierarchy dictated by the art world, the Lalannes achieved simultaneous creation of sculptural art and functional furniture.

Although the couple were often regarded as collaborators, they worked independently and in very different styles, with Claude concentrating on botanical forms and François-Xavier preferring to create pieces inspired by the animal kingdom, as exemplified in the present example. One principle that united them both was the insistence that they work very closely with each object. “Living at the Impasse Ronsin in Montparnasse, we were very friendly with Brancusi who we would see every day. So, we’re from the old school like Brancusi who we would watch working. We would never hand things over to assistants. Brancusi always made useful objects. He made everything in his studio by hand” (F. Lalanne, quoted by A. Dannatt, in Claude & François-Xavier Lalanne, exh. cat., Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York,
2007, p. 8).

François-Xavier Lalanne trained as a painter at the Académie Julian in Paris, but in 1952 abandoned easel painting to focus more specifically on sculptural forms. After meeting Claude, the couple moved into a small studio on the Impasse Ronsin in Montparnasse where they lived and worked in close proximity to other legendary artists such as Constantin Brancusi, Max Ernst, Magritte, Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint-Phalle amongst others. Although the Lalannes mixed with the New Realist group, they did not adhere to the group’s manifesto, steadfastly retaining their artistic independence. Shortly after Brancusi’s death in 1957, the studios in the Impasse Ronsin were demolished and the Lalannes moved into a new studio on the Impasse Robiquet, before moving to the rural village of Ury, South of Paris, in the 1970s.

The work of Claude and François-Xavier, and this antelope in particular, are among collectors’ most sought after forms. The playful and poetic works have attracted seminal collectors and patrons including Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé, Gunter Sachs and Peter Marino. Reminiscent of other wild animals used in François-Xavier Lalanne’s iconography, such as the Mouflon or the Capricorne, the Antelope subject matter also evokes the inspiration of ancient art, from cave paintings to Egyptian low reliefs.

A graceful and imposing work, ‘Table aux Antilopes’ is a powerful rendition that embodies both the elegance and dynamic force of the wild animal itself. The calm attitude of the antelope contrasts with the tension created by the dynamic legs and magnificent curved horns supporting the table top. The stylized heads are also adorned with almond shaped eyes, alert, twitching ears, and a small curly beard. As described by François Nourissier, “A Lalanne is a polymorphic dream hammered, riveted, soldered, or cast in metal - an animal - vegetable, that is to say, something instantaneously mythical –“ (Lalannes, exh. cat., New York, Geneva, Milan, Paris, A. Iolas, 1966)

This rare ‘Table aux Antilopes’, designed a year before François-Xavier Lalanne’s death in 2008, truly epitomizes Les Lalannes’ inventive, poetic and surrealist genius, rendered with unexpected artistic imagination. Acquired from Galerie François Mitterand the year of its creation, it has remained in the same collection since.

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