Phillips’ December Design Sale to Feature Works by Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne, Jean Royère, T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings, Alberto Giacometti, and More

Auction on 7 December to Take Place Following Exhibitions in Southampton and New York City

NEW YORK – 17 NOVEMBER 2022 – Phillips’ upcoming Design auction in New York will feature over ninety significant works from the 20th and 21st centuries, led by Claude Lalanne’s “Crococurules”. Works from the auction will be previewed at Phillips Southampton from 18–23 November prior to the 432 Park Avenue exhibition from 1–7 December. The sale will follow in New York on 7 December at 2pm EST.

Other notable highlights from the sale include T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings’ “Mesa” coffee table alongside three iconic works by Jean Royère, a “Flaque” coffee table, “Ondulation” ceiling light, and an “Ondulation” table lamp.

Cordelia Lembo, Head of Design, New York, said, “We are proud to present such a strong group of works this December, concluding an exceptional year for the Design department at Phillips. We’ve seen strong international interest across the board in our London and New York sales, and the momentum will certainly continue, with our upcoming auction offering a wonderful cross-section of design movements – from Tiffany and Jean Royère to Lalanne and Ron Arad. We look forward to welcoming those in Southampton and New York City into our exhibitions before the sale on 7 December.”

Claude Lalanne
Pair of “Crococurules”, designed 1992, produced 2009 and 2012
Estimate Upon Request
Courtesy: Phillips

As the top lot in the sale, Claude Lalanne’s pair of “Crococurules”, produced in 2009 and 2012, exemplify her singular aesthetic vision, which combined the artistic and the fantastical. Through beautiful designs rendered with exquisite craftsmanship, Lalanne transformed the everyday into a magical, dreamlike world. In 1972, she visited the Paris Zoo where she viewed a recently deceased crocodile. Using electroplating, a process for coating a solid substance in metal, she captured the beautiful creature’s form and texture. She went on to incorporate the results into various furniture designs – from tables to chairs to this edition of curule seats. Lalanne’s crocodile motifs are among the most important and sought-after pieces in her oeuvre. The artist’s splendid “Crococurules” attest not only to her technical mastery but also to her remarkable ability to translate the beauty of the natural world into works befitting a luxurious domestic setting.

Jean Royère
“Flaque” coffee table, circa 1948
Estimate: $200,000 – 300,000
Courtesy: Phillips

The auction also features three works by Jean Royère from a private New York collection, a “Flaque” coffee table, an “Ondulation” ceiling light, and an “Ondulation” table lamp. The freeform shape of the “Flaque” table illustrates the influence of biomorphism introduced by artists such as Hans Arp and Alexander Calder and situates Jean Royère’s designs within a larger international discourse. In the 1940s and 1950s, Royère would create several variations of the “Flaque” table, incorporating different materials and varied colors and ornamentation. In 1947 Royère designed his first pieces of biomorphic furniture, an “Ours Polaire” sofa and a “Flaque” low table similar to the example on offer in this sale. During the 1950s, Royère developed his repertoire of freeform designs, substituting the use of metal with straw marquetry, thus enabling him to introduce new ornamentation into these works, characterized by supple lines and delicate star motifs. Such works, as demonstrated by this table, feature pared-down forms given expression and defined within space through their materials, reflecting Royère’s captivation with fluid forms and his enduring independent expression.

Jean Royère
“Ondulation” ceiling light, circa 1939
Estimate: $100,000 – 150,000
Courtesy: Phillips

Alongside the “Flaque” table are two works that feature one of Royère’s most recognizable motifs: the undulating curve. The “Ondulation” ceiling light represents the irresistible grace of Royère’s work. Tubular metal, a quintessentially modern material, forms the wavy line which is then paired with a surprising pop of color to create a design that is at once fancifully decorative while maintaining enduring appeal. Phillips is delighted to these two iconic Royère works as well as an “Ondulation” table lamp in the auction.

T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings’ “Mesa” coffee table, model no. 1760-6 will also be among the highlights of the December auction. While Robsjohn-Gibbings is perhaps most commonly associated with his Greco-Roman motifs, the “Mesa” table represents an iconic departure within his oeuvre. In the 1940s and 1950s, he worked for the Widdicomb Furniture Company in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Designed in 1952, the “Mesa” table is the most important work from this period in his career and the example included in Phillips’ auction was executed in 1953, near the beginning of production. Inspired by both biomorphism and the American Southwest landscape, it is one of his most enduring designs.

Alberto Giacometti
“Étoile” floor lamp, circa 1936
Estimate: $150,000 – 250,000
Courtesy: Phillips

Alberto Giacometti’s “Étoile” floor lamp is an exceptional example of the decorative work that he created at the beginning of his career. Though this floor lamp appears at first to be rather unassuming, upon further engagement, the artful irregularity of the material and the precise proportions show the genius of Giacometti’s design approach. Inspired by ancient bronzes, the form seems to have been practically exhumed from an unnamed, lost civilization. Alberto Giacometti’s slender and elegant design perfectly evokes a modern sensibility at the height of minimalism and exemplifies his tempered yet exquisite approach to design.

Harry Bertoia
Untitled (multi-plane construction), circa 1958
Estimate: $70,000 – 100,000
Courtesy: Phillips

Harry Bertoia gained international attention throughout the 1950s as he began to create more purely sculptural and architectonic sculptures. The present sculpture was sold to Don Hatch in 1958 and was later acquired by the notable Caracas-based gallery Estudio Actual before being sold in the 1980s to private collectors in South America, where it has remained since. The sculpture is not only a representative example of the material and sculptural explorations that Bertoia undertook at the time, but it also symbolizes the cusp of Bertoia’s burgeoning career.

Auction: 7 December 2022 2pm EST
Auction viewing: 1 – 7 December
Location: 432 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10022
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