Lot 127
  • 127

Claude Lalanne

500,000 - 700,000 USD
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  • Claude Lalanne
  • "Dimetrodon II"
  • titled and dated D II 1/1 98 with artist's monogram and impressed LALANNE
  • copper and steel
unique topiary fountain


Commissioned directly from the artist by a Private Belgian Collector, 1998


Daniel Marchesseau, Les Lalanne, Paris, 1998, pp. 72-73 (for the topiary structure of the Dimétrodon of Santa Monica, 1989) and 144-145 (for the Iguanodon at Santa Monica, 1989)
François-Xavier & Claude Lalanne: Dreams for the Light of Day
, exh. cat. Gerald Peters Gallery, New York, 2000, p. 65 (for a related Dimétrodon sculpture)
Claude & François-Xavier Lalanne, exh. cat., Galerie Enrico Navarra and JGM Galerie, Paris, 2000, p. 105 (for a related dinosaur topiary structure)
Daniel Abadie, Lalanne(s), Paris, 2008, pp. 32 (for the topiary structure of the Dimétrodon of Santa Monica, 1989), 33 (for François-Xavier Lalanne's drawing for the Tricératops of Santa Monica), 34-35 (for a Dimétrodon exhibited at Parc de Bagatelle, Paris, 1998) and 332 (for the Iguanodon at Santa Monica)
Les Lalanne at Fairchild, exh. cat., Paul Kasmin Gallery, Coral Gables, 2010, n.p. (for a related dinosaur)
Art at Fairchild, exh. cat., Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Coral Gables, 2010, n.p. (for the above dinosaur)
Paul Kasmin, Claude & François-Xavier Lalanne, New York, 2012, n.p. (for related sculptures, including a topiary structure)
Adrien Dannatt, Les Lalanne, Fifty Years of Work, Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York, 2015, pp. 12 (for views of the dinosaurs in Santa Monica), 13 (for a Dimétrodon in the garden of the Lalanne home in Ury, France) and 93 (for another Dimétrodon at Fairchild)


Overall very good condition. The copper surfaces are bright and lustrous, creating a vibrant, dynamic contrast with the greenery. The copper has been recently cleaned and presents with scattered darker passages and a few discoloration throughout, visible on the Dimetrodon's spine. The copper with light surface scratches and abrasions and scattered water marks throughout, consistent with age and exposure to the elements. With light surface soiling to the recessed areas of the design. The solder to the contours of the ribs of the spine is slightly darker, which enhances the dimensionality of the spine. Some of the solder has possibly been reinforced at some point in the history of the piece. Manufacturing seams are visible throughout and presents as a design element. The steel body of the dimetrodon is an open, cage-like structure intended to be used as a topiary as shown in the catalogue photography. The piece is presently covered in faux ivy, which is included in the lot. With a hose running through the body of the dimetrodon that could be connected with a water pump the display the piece as a fountain, spraying water from the dimetrodon's mouth. An extremely impressive piece that can be displayed indoors and outdoors which exemplifies Lalanne's surrealist spirit.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Husband-and-wife design duo François-Xavier and Claude Lalanne began working together shortly after they met in Paris in 1953.  In the 1960s, they relocated to the French countryside in Ury, and by the 1970s they were exhibiting their work around the world.  Their irresistibly whimsical, surrealist sculptures reimagined the diverse flora and fauna that surrounded them, which they described as “the richest and most varied forms on the planet.”  Several early, influential collectors acquired important pieces by Les Lalanne, including Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Bergé, Günter Sachs, Dodie Rosenkrans, Valentino Garavani, and Karl Lagerfeld.  In 1991, a retrospective of their work was shown at the Château de Chenonceau in France.  More recently, Les Lalanne were the subject of a major retrospective at the museum Les Arts Décoratifs in Paris and a large-scale public exhibition at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, Florida.

Les Lalanne designed their first fountain sculptures for a public art installation in Santa Monica, California after winning an international arts competition in 1988.  Their project featured six monumental dinosaur topiary sculptures, displayed along the 3rd Street promenade.  The present sculpture is inspired by a dimetrodon—a pre-historic reptile that roamed the earth 295-272 million years ago.  Its most prominent feature was the large sail along its spine which, in the present work, creates a vibrant contrast between its crisp metallic surface and the lush vegetation that covers the rest of the creature’s body.  This contrast, as well as the overall presentation of the sculpture, can be manipulated based on the species, color, and styling of whatever plant is used, similar to Jeff Koons’ topiary 1992 Puppy at the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum.  The endless possibilities in this respect impart the piece with a dynamism and liveliness that is quintessential to the work of Lalanne.

Indeed, all elements of the design of Dimetrodon II were approached from the poetic, surrealist point of view for which Les Lalanne are known.  The incorporation of flora and fauna is a theme they explored in other works, such as Claude’s charming Choupatte and anthropomorphic Pomme Bouche sculptures.  Dimetrodon II is distinguished in this regard, however, by the fact that the flora employed in this work is living, growing, and ephemeral.  The sense of surrealism is further heightened by the imaginative additions of a horn on the dimetrodon’s forehead and fountain element spraying through its teeth.  The active nature of the sculpture—from its blossoming, plant-covered skin to its lively waterwork display and energetic pose—animate Dimetrodon II in a unique, exciting way.  It is at once fierce and playful, evoking the spirit of a dragon.