There are certain things you see in magazines or in museums that you just can’t forget.
For me, it’s life size whimsical sheep. Not living sheep, although they’re adorable too, I’m referring to Lalannes’ sheep.
“They are not furniture, they are not sculpture – call them ‘Lalannes.” stated Claude Lalanne, the wife, artist and collaborator of French artist Francois-Xavier Lalanne. The couple created works of art that exemplified the surrealist sculptors’ view on living and nature.
Most recognizable are their curly sheep stools. The first were exhibited in 1965 at the Salon de la Jeune Peinture in Paris. They were an instant hit. The wooly creatures have graced the homes of famous designers like Valentino and Yves Saint Laurent.
Lelanne’s sheep in the style of… created by Old Plank. www.oldplank.com
Sheep were created for both interior and exterior display. The indoor sheep were constructed from bronze and lamb’s wool. The outdoor versions were made from epoxy stone and bronze. In the first herd, four sheep received impassive faces of patinated bronze, the others remained headless. They all had bronze feet complete with casters in their hoofs so they could be easily moved around.
In December 2012, a pair of Lalanne sheep stools sold for $542,500. In 2011, a collection of ten sheep, “Mouton de Pierre” circa 1979, sold for $7.5 million at Christie’s auction house. Francois-Xavier died in 2008.
At these prices, Lalanne’s sheep are only available for the serious collectors and museums. But that doesn’t stop eclectic designers from coveting this iconic look. For the past few years we have been embracing the aura and feel of authentic and faux sheep skins as throws and seat covers. This may explain the upsurge in interest.
Sheep stop traffic on Park Avenue. Please ensure the image runs with the following credit line: Les Lalanne artwork © (2018) Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York, NY/ ADAGP, Paris, France. Photo by Mark Markin.
When demand exceeds the source or in this instance the checkbook, reproductions befall the market. Antiques on Old Plank Road owners, Richard and Robin Buxbaum, while shopping at the Paris Flea Market, 25 years ago, spotted a Lalanne sheep. Shocked at the $5,000 price tag they continued through the Market. Little did they know how much these adorable sheep would fetch years later.
They never forgot the charm of that sheep and continued to search for a more affordable alternative. They finally decided to produce them in their studio in Chicago. Their sheep in the style of, range between $5,000 and $8,000 each. They are available online at www.oldplank.com
Designs are inspired by the growing consumer interest in Lalanne sheep and urban décor. www.phillipscollections.com
Phillips Collection introduced their Lalanne inspired sheep at the Spring Market in High Point. Fabricated from resin the sheep have a look that is all their own. They serve as tables and sculpture. Available in ivory or black for $750. www.phillipscollections.com
Interlude Home’s Phillippe Sheep sculptures, in the style of the Lalanne originals with bronze patina and ivory curly sheepskin are available in ivory and black with heads or without for around four thousand dollars. www.interludehome.com
Indoors or out, the charm of a single black sheep or a herd are sought by collectors and decorators around the world. Photo and sheep from Antiques on Old Plank.
Still a little too pricy for most, but their charm can’t be denied. Having sheep in your living room or a herd gently grazing on you front lawn as does investor Wilbur Ross in Southampton, New York, provide a sense of calm and nostalgia for their owners.
Lalanne’s sheep still draw a crowd. When a herd of ten were assembled on the median of Park Avenue in New York promoting an upcoming sale, thousands stopped and click photos of this uncommon sight. After all, it isn’t every day that sheep graze on Park Avenue.