• LUCY GORDON BAIRD

Feeling Sheepish

A BRIEF HISTORY OF FRANÇOIS-XAVIER LALANNE'S 1960s SHEEP SCULPTURES

Les Lalanne © 2020 Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York NY/ADAGP Paris 


Inspired by Ulysses and his comrades' escape from the cyclops Polyphemus in Homer's Odyssey, François-Xavier’s celebrated sheep sculptures, Moutons de Laine, remain cult favorites among the chic set.

François-Xavier, along with his creative partner and wife Claude, strongly believed that art should be functional and fun. Thus, like many of their designs, Moutons de Laine are intended to be used as furniture, in addition to sculpture. ‘I thought that it would be funny to invade that big living room with a flock of sheep,’ François-Xavier once explained. ‘It is, after all, easier to have a sculpture in an apartment than to have a real sheep. And, it’s even better if you can sit on it.’

First presented at the 1965 Salon de la Jeune Peinture in Paris, they made an immediate splash amongst collectors and celebrities alike. Several were commissioned by Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé, who housed their new companions in their library in Paris. They remain as covetable today - in 2011 a group of ten sheep sold for a whopping near $7.5 million at Christie’s. Chrissy Teigen has even tried one of Kris Jenner's out.

I guess the sheep are here to stay!



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