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Status, price and estimation of the artist LALAN

Painting: €10,000 – €400,000

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Music – a primary vocation

Xie Jinglan, known by her artist name Lalan, is a painter, musician, choreographer and poet who was born in Guizhou, China, in 1921 and died in France in 1995.

Born into a family of academics and literary scholars, Lalan devoted the first part of her education to music. In the 1930s, she attended the music department at the Hangzhou School of Art. There she met ZaoWou-Ki, the famous Chinese painter and printmaker, whom she married in 1941.

Wishing to be at the heart of the artistic life of the time, the couple moved to Paris in 1948. They stayed in a studio in Montparnasse where they met friends such as Alberto Giacometti, Pierre Soulage and Henri Michaux, who helped them to position themselves on the Parisian art scene.

A versatile artist

Lalan continued her musical studies at the Conservatoire Nationale Supérieur de Musique et de Danse in Paris. Later, she studied modern dance at the American Cultural Centre, then began experimenting with electronic music.

Divorced from Zao Wou-Ki in 1957, Lalan remarried to Marcel van Thienen, a French sculptor, in 1958. From then on, she devoted her life not only to music and dance but also to painting.

An abstract work

Her early paintings already transcend artistic genres. Indeed, Lalan combines dance with painting by depicting the gestures of her choreographies in interwoven dark lines, contrasting with the plain background of the canvas. This is illustrated, for example, by Avant La Nuit, a work dating from 1963 and now in the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.

From about 1970 until 1983, Lalan’s paintings are more serene. The colours are softer, more harmonious and intended to bring serenity to the viewer. For example, Lalan produced Paysages Lointains, a work that sold for 108,616 euros at Christie’s (Hong Kong, 25 May 2014).

Finally, the third and last period is a compromise between the first two. The soft, light colours of the second period are found again, this time combined with the darker lines of the early period.

Now rediscovered as one of the most influential female artists of her time, Lalan leaves behind a prolific body of work that fascinates collectors. Her career was brutally interrupted in 1995 when she died in a car accident.

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