Lot 1113
  • 1113


5,500,000 - 7,500,000 HKD
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  • Gorille de Sûreté I
  • patinated bronze
  • 153 by 98 by 89 cm. 60 1/4 by 38 5/8 by 35 in.
monogrammed FxL, numbered 1/8 on a foot and with the foundry mark bocquel fondeur on the back


Christian Fayt Art Gallery, Knokke-le-Zoute
Private Collection, Europe
Campo & Campo, Antwerp, 29 October 1996, Lot 320
Private Collection, Europe
Christie's, Paris, 4 December 2013, Lot 41
Ben Brown Fine Arts, Hong Kong
Acquired from the above by the present owner


Knokke-le-Zoute, Christian Fayt Art Gallery, Les Lalanne, 1983, (edition no. unknown)
Hong Kong, Landmark, March 2017


Exh. Cat., Chenonceau, Château de Chenonceau, Les Lalanne, 1991, p. 30, illustrated (edition no. unknown)
Daniel Marchesseau, Les Lalanne, Paris 1998, p. 87, illustrated in colour (edition no. unknown)
Exh. Cat., Paris, JGM Galerie, Claude et François-Xavier Lalanne, Sculptures, 2002, illustrated in colour (edition no. unknown)
Daniel Abadie, Lalanne(s), Paris 2008, p. 89, illustrated in colour (edition no. unknown)
Exh. Cat., Paris, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Les Lalanne, 2010, pp. 64 and 111, illustrated in colour (edition no. unknown)
Paul Kasmin, Claude & François-Xavier Lalanne, Art-Work-Life, New York 2012, n.p., illustrated in colour (edition no. unknown)

Catalogue Note

Whimsical, majestic and strangely elegant, François-Xavier Lalanne’s monumental Gorille de Sûreté I exudes the silent, noble aura of a watchful sentry. Seated in a posture reminiscent of an ancient Buddha, Gorille de Sûreté I emanates an incomparable presence imbued with immutable wisdom –in equal parts formidable yet reassuring, familiar yet suffused with deep mystery. The gorilla is one of Lalanne’s most iconic figures in his remarkable procession of animal sculptures, at the heart of which is his fascination with the animal and zoological worlds. Formative friendships with Constantin Brancusi and Salvador Dalí, coupled with time spent as an attendant in the Louvre in the Egyptian and Assyrian departments, culminated in iconic animal sculptures that garnered a cult following in France and worldwide. Imbued with playfulness and elegance, Lalanne’s bronze sculptures radiate a singular timeless quality and anthropomorphic presence. The quality of such a presence is aptly summarized by the artist’s daughter Dorothée Lalanne in 1985: “Art, says F.-X. L., may be when a completely inert material such as a piece of bronze, plaster or stone acquires an independent life, equivalent to that of an animal. […] A piece of metal in itself is only metal. But if, suddenly, through the shape we give it, it acquires a life, perhaps a life is too strong a word, a presence…” Straddling the boundaries between art and design, Lalanne’s unprecedented surreal creations attracted the patronage of Yves Saint Laurent and Gunter Sachs as early as the 1960s.

Born in Agen, France in 1927, Lalanne moved to Paris at the age of 18 and was neighbors with Brancusi, who introduced the young Lalanne to his circle of Surrealist friends including Max Ernst and Man Ray. Having met his wife Claude Lalanne in 1952, Lalanne abandoned painting in the same year and moved into a small studio on the Impasse Ronsin. The couple was part of an electic group of artists that included Brancusi, Max Ernst, René Magritte and Niki de Saint-Phalle, amongst others, and interacted with the Nouveau Realiste group. However, they did not adhere to the group’s manifesto. Operating outside of contemporary influences, the duo self-christened themselves as a single creative entity “Les Lalanne” but each embraced their own parallel paths, working in separate studios and each carving out unique and highly personalized oeuvres. It was in 1957 that Lalanne created his first sculpture using a welding machine purchased jointly with Jean Tinguely, and international critical acclaim swiftly followed as early as the mid-1960s. Believing that art should not be confined to merely aesthetic needs, Lalanne remained loyal to the practical dimension of design, carving out fantastical dream worlds within the bounds of the domestic home space. The duo’s works have been showcased in a major retrospective at Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris and an extensive public exhibition at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Florida. Their designs are also represented in the renowned collections of the Cooper Hewitt Museum, New York; National Design Museum, New York; Museé Nationale d’Art Moderne, Paris; Centre Pompidou, Paris; and Museé d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris. Their legacy continues to thrive even beyond art, spanning to the world of fashion with pieces regularly installed in top luxury stores such as Chanel and Dior.

Lalanne conceived the idea for a tall monkey as early as 1966. In his younger years, he had spent long hours in the Egyptian and Assyrian art galleries at the Louvre where he worked as a guard. Roaming the halls while it was closed to the public, Lalanne was struck by the colossal sculptures of mythological creatures and part-animal deities. The iconography of monkeys holds a special value in Egyptian religion as it is one of the incarnations of the divine deity and protector of the world, Thoth. According to the belief, the monkey is the keeper of bestiary and guardian of the universe, representing wisdom and insight. Drawing inspiration from ancient iconography, Lalanne’s monkey and gorilla sculptures bring to mind the Egyptian Pantheon monkey-scribe who, on top of linking Earth and Sky, is an artist and supreme magician. Lalanne produced 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 purposeLater creations are afunctional and participate in the revival of the motif towards the end of Lalanne’s career, as in the present Gorille de Sûreté I. The later pieces are imbued with heightened contemplative and sophisticated quality. The largest version of the 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.