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    FRANÇOIS-XAVIER LALANNE (1927-2008) – RHINOCRÉTAIRE I ©Christie’s Images Limited 2023. Photographe : Freddy Persson. UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR €18,335,000

    Christie’s will offer Rhinocrétaire I, the first major sculpture by François-Xavier Lalanne— widely considered to be the artist’s most important work— in a single-lot auction in Paris on October 20. Contained within the armoured body of the animal is a hidden secretary desk, bar, safe and lamps—Lalanne’s ingenious interpretation of a classic theme in the legacy of French decorative arts— furniture with secret compartments. In Rhinocrétaire I, the artist has wittily imbued this heritage with an avant-garde and very modern twist.

    Heralding an extraordinary artistic career, Rhinocrétaire I stands as a seminal prototype in François-Xavier Lalanne’s œuvre: all the elements that would become the hallmark of the artist’s work are present. These would later culminate in his Moutons de Laine, Bar Les Autruches, Baignoires Hippopotame, and Bar YSL. Rhinocrétaire I encapsulates, prefigures, and sets the tone for the poetic excess and whimsy that would define the artist’s signature for the next forty-four years. In creating this rhinoceros, François-Xavier Lalanne knew he was following in the footsteps of some of the world’s greatest artists, from the representations of animals in the Paleolithic cave paintings at Lascaux, to works by Dalí or Dürer. As in the famous engraving by the German master, the rhinoceros does not simulate its real-life counterpart. However, it is Lalanne’s expressive mastery of the metal that truly gives life to the sculpture.

    With a pre-sale estimate of €4,000,000–6,000,000, this stunning work will be the focus of a dedicated exhibition at Christie’s Paris this fall, and a limited-edition catalogue will be available in early October.

    FRANÇOIS-XAVIER LALANNE (1927-2008) – RHINOCRÉTAIRE I ©Christie’s Images Limited 2023. Photographe : Freddy Persson

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