Lot 12
  • 12


900,000 - 1,500,000 USD
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  • François-Xavier Lalanne
  • "Singe Avisé (Grand)"
  • monogrammed FXL and numbered 6/8
  • patinated bronze
  • 46 1/2  x 33 x 33 in. (118.1 x 83.8 x 83.8 cm)
  • circa 2005
number 6 from an edition of 8


Galerie Mitterrand, Paris
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2008


Reed Krakoff, Ben Brown and Paul Kasmin, Claude & François-Xavier Lalanne, exh. cat., Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York and Ben Brown Fine Arts, London, 2006, pp. 80-81 (for photographs of the "Grand" and "Moyen" models)
Les Lalanne at Fairchild, exh. cat., Paul Kasmin Gallery, Coral Gables, 2010, n.p. (for the "Très Grand" model)
Les Lalanne, exh. cat., Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, 2010, pp. 108-109 and 111 (for the "Très Grand" model)
Paul Kasmin, Claude & François-Xavier Lalanne, New York, 2012, n.p. (for the "Grand" and "Très Grand" models)
Adrien Dannatt, Les Lalanne, Fifty Years of Work, exh. cat., Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York, 2015, p. 174 (for the "Grand" model)
Adrian Dannatt, François-Xavier and Claude Lalanne: In the Domain of Dreams, New York, 2018, pp. 16, 23, 143 and 211 (for the "Très Grand" model)


Overall in very good condition. This large ("grand") version of the model presents very impressively with a strong and dynamic sculptural presence when viewed firsthand. The bronze surfaces have been recently sensitively cleaned and waxed, and display a beautifully variegated patina ranging from russet brown to deep chocolate brown, which is richer when viewed firsthand compared to the catalogue illustration. Inherent in the execution, the bronze displays a subtle textural thatched surface, evoking the texture of the monkey's fur. The bronze surfaces with minor surface scratches and some occasional light scuffing throughout, not visually distracting, and with some occasional instances of very minor oxidation to the left arm and recessed contours of the design, consistent with age. An important and majestic sculpture by François-Xavier Lalanne, suitable for display both indoors or outdoors.
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

François-Xavier Lalanne (1927–2008) claimed that animals were at the center of his artistic vocabulary because of the great variety of forms provided by the zoological world. Between birds, rabbits, and monkeys, the artist exploited the various metaphors and connotations associated to each animal, exploring the infinite possibilities of a universal zoomorphic language. As for so many artists, Lalanne drew inspiration from early life experiences: he studied the work of Francois Pompon as an art student, his neighbor in Paris was Constantin Brancuși, and he spent long hours in the Egyptian and Assyrian art galleries at the Louvre where he worked as a guard. Working at the museum while it was closed to the public, he absorbed the monumental sculptures of mythological creatures and part-animal deities, which surely informed his later creations. The monkey in particular holds a special place in Egyptian visual culture as one of the incarnations of the Egyptian deity Thoth, regarded as one of the guardians of the universe. Lalanne brought to his own monkeys a hieratic dignity seemingly borrowed from the type of ancient statuary he once contemplated. Referred to as “avise” (“insightful”), Lalanne’s monkey represents wisdom. His proud posture only heightens his strikingly human demeanor. He is pensively looking away, echoing the double entendre created by the word “avise”—the French verb “viser” referring to sight. Spectacular in volume, the Singe is imbued with the sense of playful elegance so often associated with the artist’s work.

Lalanne had conceived the idea for a tall monkey as early as 1966. He then claimed: “I would like to make a very big gorilla—very big—who eats dirty shirts.” Lalanne ended up producing a wide range of ape-inspired pieces throughout his career. The Babouin fireplace and the Gorille de Sûreté safe, both introduced in the early 1970s, serve a utilitarian purpose that is omitted from the Singe Avisé. Later creations of smaller scale such as Singes II and Singe Attentif are similarly afunctional and participate in the revival of the motif towards the end of Lalanne’s career. These later pieces share with the Singe Avisé, one of the last creatures he brought to life, a contemplative and sophisticated quality, in which the animal’s humor and humanness are suggested rather than actively displayed. The largest version of this model, and the sculptor’s very last monumental sculpture, was exhibited on Park Avenue in 2009 as part of the New York City Parks Public Art Program. The model has since become one of Francois-Xavier Lalanne’s most memorable and celebrated creations.