François-Xavier Lalanne France, 1927-2008
Claude Lalanne (b. 1924, Paris, France; d. 2019, Ury, France) and François-Xavier Lalanne (b. 1927, Agen, France; d. 2008, Ury, France) were one of the most pioneering artist duos of the twentieth century. Raised by a musician mother and gold broker father, Claude Lalanne pursued formal education in art at the École des Arts Décoratifs, the École des Beaux-Arts, and the Atelier de la Grande Chaumière in Paris. After receiving a Jesuit education, in 1945, François-Xavier Lalanne moved to Montparnasse, an artists’ neighborhood in Paris, where his neighbor, legendary modernist sculptor Constantin Brancusi, introduced him to the Surrealist circle. In 1952, François-Xavier met Claude at an exhibition of his work, and they married fifteen years later. In 1964, their first joint exhibition, Zoophites, was held at Galerie J in Paris, earning international acclaim. Shortly thereafter, they began exhibiting with dealer Alexander Iolas, a fierce exponent of Surrealism. The couple, who became known collectively as Les Lalanne, did not consider themselves to be collaborators on the same projects, but rather worked together to develop a shared creative vision that celebrates the whimsical menagerie of the botanical and animal kingdoms. Inspired by the natural world, their body of work draws on elements of fine art and design in a singular style that invites the viewer to reconsider familiar objects and imagery. Les Lalanne strongly believed art should be part of life, and their exquisite objects frequently have a functional purpose as well as an aesthetic experience. Their lasting legacy resonates today not only in subsequent generations of fine artists, but also in the fashion and design worlds. In 2010, Les Lalanne were the subject of a major retrospective at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris. The couple’s work is held in important public collections across the globe, including the Cooper Hewitt Museum, New York; Musée Nationale d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris and Musée d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris.
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