At midnight during a full moon in 1972, Claude Lalanne paid a visit to the Paris zoo. It was a surreal and eagerly anticipated experience for the artist. Through her friend and fellow artist Niki de Saint Phalle, she had made an appointment with the zoo’s director, who agreed to her request for the remains of a recently deceased crocodile. Lalanne had conceived the idea to incorporate the animal’s unique form into her bronze work, but she knew it would be impossible to realise without a model. So she waited for nature and fate to take their course. When a crocodile at the zoo died, the zoo director recognised that the animal, under Lalanne’s nimble fingers and poetic imagination, would soon begin its next life as a work of art.
COURTESY OF THE ARTIST AND SALON 94, NEW YORK. COPYRIGHT MARILYN MINTER.© 2017 DAMIEN HIRST / ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK, NY.
Since that night, Lalanne has incorporated the “Croco” into an array of her works. Either fragmented or in its entirety, the crocodile motif appears as a chandelier, small table, stool, chair, bench and, in one of the artist’s most masterful interpretations of the form, as the present desk and armchairs. Lalanne developed the technique of galvanoplastie, in which she uses a continuous electric current to apply a metal deposit on the surface of the object. Lalanne employs this technique alongside bronze casting to translate the crocodile’s rough and scaly form and additional botanical elements into the textured surfaces of the present lots.
Sotheby’s would like to thank Claude Lalanne for her assistance with the cataloguing of these lots.