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Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966)
Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966)

Diego au chandail

Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966)
Diego au chandail
signed, numbered and stamped with foundry mark 'Alberto Giacometti 2/6 Susse Fondeur Paris' (on the back)
bronze with brown and green patina
Height: 15 in. (38.5 cm.)
Conceived in 1954; this bronze version cast shortly thereafter
Galerie Maeght, Paris.
Gordon Washburn, Buffalo, New York.
Marlborough Gallery Inc., New York.
Kent Gallery, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 15 September 1985.
J. Dupin, Alberto Giacometti, Paris, 1962, p. 273 (another cast illustrated).
Y. Bonnefoy, Alberto Giacometti, A Biography of His Work, Paris, 1991, pp. 441-442 (another cast illustrated, fig. 423; painted version illustrated, fig. 424).
New York, Kent Gallery, Important Primitive and Modern Masterpieces, October 1991-December 1992.

Lot Essay

During the 1950s and 1960s, the artist's younger brother Diego was the primary model for Alberto's numerous portrait variations. Diego moved to Paris in the late 1920s and in 1929 joined his brother as an assistant and partner. He arranged the casting of his bronzes and worked many of the patinas, while Alberto himself worked extensively on the surface of the plaster models to grant the portraits a more immediate and expressive quality.

These sculpted portraits gave the artist an opportunity to express not only the personality of his sitter, in this case Diego, but also a means through which he could proffer an expression of his own. The bronzes from 1954 are among Giacometti's most well-known and powerful works. In Diego au chandail there is a sense of distance, or a a sense of withdrawl, on the part of the sitter. Diego's shoulders are arched back and his head is virtually diminished by the sheer weight of his overcoat. As Yves Bonnefoy has discussed of the works from this period:

These are the facts... These sculpted faces compel one to face them as if one were speaking to the person, meeting his eyes and thereby understanding better the compression, the narrowing that Giacometti imposed on the chin or the nose or the general shape of the skull. This was the period when Giacometti was most strongly conscious of the fact that the inside of the plaster or clay mass which he modelled was something inert, undifferentiated, nocturnal, that it betrays the life he sought to represent, and that he must therefore strive to eliminate this purely spatial dimension by constricting the material to fit the most prominent characteristics of the face. This is exactly what he achieves with amazing vigour when, occasionally, he gave Diego's face a blade-like narrowness - drawing seems to have eliminated the plaster, the head has escaped from space - and demands therefore that the spectator standing in front of the sculpture as he did himself, disregarding the back and sides of his model and as bound to a face to face relationship as in the case of work at an easel. (Y. Bonnefoy, op. cit., pp. 432 and 436)

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