François-Xavier Lalanne

02/06 > 28/07 2018
Exhibition view
Exhibition view
Exhibition view
Exhibition view
Exhibition view
Exhibition view




Following the Claude Lalanne’s first solo exhibition, Galerie Mitterrand is pleased to show a solo exhibition of François-Xavier Lalanne’s work from 2 June until 28 July 2018. By exhibiting the husband-and-wife artists’ work separately for the first time, Galerie Mitterrand puts the spotlight on the individual styles of the duo – and celebrates the extraordinary relationship between Les Lalanne and Jean-Gabriel Mitterrand, a friendship that stems back to the creation of his gallery exactly 30 years ago, in 1988.

François-Xavier Lalanne (1927-2008) was a French sculptor whose work is invariably associated with that of his wife, Claude Lalanne. Beginning in the 1950s, Les Lalanne developed parallel sets of works based on surrealist associations filled with humour and poetry; yet, each had their own distinct modus operandi. Daniel Abadie writes in Lalanne(s): “it is obviously the case that both Claude’s and François-Xavier’s work have separate identities, despite bearing the same signature. It is impossible to mistake the work of one for that of the other, given their very different approaches to sculpture: moulding and assembly for her, and drawing and construction for him. Their respective worlds are also very different: classic and architectural for François-Xavier, and natural and Baroque for Claude. However, their work has for a long time been inseparable in the public eye, as if sharing a signature meant their work could only have been cast from a single mould.”

François-Xavier’s work features a menagerie of whimsical animal sculptures in the spirit of other 20th-century artists like Pompon and Brancusi (Brancusi’s and Lalanne’s Montparnasse studios were in fact next door to each other). François-Xavier Lalanne is best known for his sculptures which double as furniture, such as the Rhinocrétaire (rhinoceros desk); the Moutons de laine (sheep chairs); and the Gorille de sûreté (gorilla safe). He believed that sculpture, and art in general, could be functional. His distinctive style is characterized by his synthetic approach which combines pared down shapes and rigourous lines.

This solo exhibition of François-Xavier Lalanne’s work presents a panorama of his art through a collection of some 30 pieces. Visitors can rediscover some of his most famous works, like an Oiseau de jardin à bascule (Rocking Garden Bird), 1975; a Rhinocéros V, 1991; a Wapiti, 1999; an Âne de Nathalie (Nathalie’s Donkey), 1973; and a Très grand ours (Very Big Bear), 2007, which is 10 feet (3 meters) tall. A number of outdoor pieces give prominence to garden art, such as the Fontaine aux trois oiseaux sur la plage (Three Birds on the Beach Fountain), 1995); Tortue Topiaire III (Topiary Turtle III), 1992; two Sangliers topiaires (Topiary Boars), 1994; an Âne planté (Planted Donkey), 1990; and his famous Moutons.


François-Xavier Lalanne (b. 1927 in Agen, died 2008 in Ury, France) studied painting at the Académie Julian before shifting his focus to sculpture at the beginning of the 1950s. Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne have collaborated for many years with gallery owner Alexandre Iolas and associated in the late-1980s with the Galerie Mitterrand, where they have shown over a dozen exhibitions. The hugely successful sale of the Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé collection showed the world the importance of Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne’s works among the masterpieces assembled by the collectors over their lives. A retrospective exhibition of Les Lalanne was held at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris in 2010.