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Buste d'Annette IV

Buste d'Annette IV
signed and numbered 'Alberto Giacometti 5/6' (on the right side of the base); inscribed with foundry mark 'Susse Fondeur Paris' (on the back of the base)
bronze with dark brown patina
Height: 22 7/8 in. (58 cm.)
Conceived in 1962; this bronze version cast in 1963
Théodore Fraenkel, Paris (gift from the artist).
Léna Leclercq, France (bequest from the above).
Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York (May 1965).
The Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation, New York; sale, Sotheby's New York, 7 May 2014, lot 35.
Acquired at the above sale by the late owners.
R.-J. Moulin, Giacometti: Sculptures, New York, 1964, no. 24 (another cast illustrated).
R. Hohl, Alberto Giacometti, New York, 1971, pp. 263 and 309 (another cast illustrated, p. 309).
B. Lamarche-Vadel, Alberto Giacometti, Paris, 1984, pp. 154-155, no. 224 (another cast illustrated, p. 155).
J. Lord, Giacometti: A Biography, New York, 1986 (another cast illustrated).
Y. Bonnefoy, Alberto Giacometti: A Biography of His Work, Paris, 1991, pp. 510 and 512 (another cast illustrated in color, p. 512, fig. 517).
T. Dufrêne, Alberto Giacometti: Les Dimensions de la réalité, Geneva, 1994, p. 183.
The Alberto Giacometti Database, no. 2924.
Milan, Palazzo Reale, Alberto Giacometti: Sculture, dipinti, disegni, January-April 1995, p. 238, no. 78 (illustrated in color, p. 239).
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Brought to you by

Vanessa Fusco
Vanessa Fusco Head of Department, Impressionist & Modern Art, New York

Lot Essay

Alberto Giacometti met his future wife Annette Arm during the Second World War while living in Switzerland. Moving to Paris in the aftermath of the war, the two married in 1949, thus embarking upon what would be a twenty-year partnership: Annette became one of Giacometti’s principal models and most frequent subjects, posing for her husband on countless occasions. In Buste d’Annette IV, which Giacometti sculpted in 1962, the artist has depicted his wife as attentive and eager, hair flowing loosely around her face, with a youthful charm and innate curiosity. “Her eyes devoured the world,” observed Simone de Beauvoir upon meeting Annette in 1946. “She couldn’t stand missing anything or anyone,” a sense strongly evoked in the present work (quoted in V. Wiesinger, “On Women in Giacometti’s Work (And Some Women in Particular),” The Women of Giacometti, exh. cat., PaceWildenstein, New York, 2005, p. 19).
Although long celebrated for his towering, attenuated figures, during the 1950s, Giacometti turned away from these sculptures towards a more naturalistic idiom rooted in the realities of space. “I have often felt in front of living beings, above all in front of human heads,” he explained, “the sense of a space-atmosphere which immediately surrounds these beings, penetrates them, is already the being itself; the exact limits, the dimensions of this being become indefinable. An arm is as vast as the Milky Way, and this phrase has nothing mystical about it” (quoted in D. Sylvester, Looking at Giacometti, London, 1994, p. 34). Over the course of the decade, he resumed his drawing and painting practices and returned to working with a model, relying solely on a few intimates, namely his brother Diego and Annette. But even as he worked from life, Giacometti sought not to recreate an absolute likeness in his sculptures, but rather to arrest a psychological interpretation of his sitters. These were wholly dimensional beings who existed fully in the world.
Although determined to disavow any expressionistic content, Giacometti nevertheless believed the subject of a work of art to be “primordial.” As he explained, “The lesser or greater formal qualities are only a sign of the lesser or greater obsession of the artist with his subject; the form is always the measure of the obsession” (quoted in “About Jacques Callot,” Labyrinthe, 15 April 1945, reprinted in op. cit., exh. cat., 2005, p. 15). Yet the intimacy shared between the artist and his sitter is nevertheless evident in Buste d’Annette IV, conveyed through the figure’s soulful, penetrating stare, and the tactile way in which he handled his materials.
Giacometti gifted Buste d’Annette IV to Théodore Fraenkel, a French doctor and writer who had become close friends with André Breton while the two were at school. Following the First World War, and alongside Louis Aragon, Paul Éluard, Francis Picabia, and others, Fraenkel participated in many of the Dadaist demonstrations in Paris that Breton organized even as he remained committed to his medical practice. Fraenkel was one of Giacometti’s closest friends, as well as his doctor, and sat for the artist several times. Describing their relationship, Giacometti’s biographer, James Lord, wrote, “Fraenkel was exceptionally timid, and would sometimes sit for hours without uttering one word. Alberto gave him confidence, drew him out, enabled him to become expansive and talk about himself. The tonic effect was the basis of the friendship between the artist and the doctor, who was more than ready to repay the kindness with advice and medicine when necessary, which was rather often” (Giacometti: A Biography, New York, 1983, p. 275).
Other editions of this work are held in the collections of the Tate, London, and the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio.

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