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Diego (Tête sur socle cubique)

Diego (Tête sur socle cubique)
signed and numbered 'Alberto Giacometti 6/6' (on the right of the base); inscribed with foundry mark ‘Susse Fondeur Paris’ (on the back of the base)
bronze with brown and green patina
Height: 11 7/8 in. (30.3 cm.)
Conceived in 1958 and cast in 1960
Galerie Maeght, Paris (1960).
The Pace Gallery, New York (1965).
Morton and Barbara Mandel, Cleveland (acquired from the above, 29 April 1994); sale, Sotheby’s, New York, 16 May 2018, lot 16M.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
J. Dupin, Alberto Giacometti, Paris, 1962, p. 277 (plaster version illustrated).
V. Wiesinger, ed., L'Atelier d'Alberto Giacometti: Collection de la Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti, exh. cat., Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 2007, p. 193, no. 316 (plaster version illustrated in color).
The Alberto Giacometti Database, no. 3903.
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Max Carter
Max Carter Vice Chairman, 20th and 21st Century Art, Americas

Lot Essay

Diego Giacometti was the most enduring presence in his older brother, Alberto’s life. As well as a crucial friend and confidante, he played a key role in Alberto’s artistic practice, often supervising the casting of his plasters; he later worked as an artist in his own right, creating a host of bronze objects and furniture. He was, as Yves Bonnefoy has described, “the devoted collaborator, so aware of Alberto’s needs and even most of his impatient idiosyncrasies that the sculptor could entrust him with all his casting and patination, two quite essential aspects of his world. Without Diego, Alberto would certainly not have sculpted his largest statues… Diego therefore lived at the very heart of the work in progress and Alberto to some extent could consider him another self” (Alberto Giacometti, trans. J. Stewart, Paris, 1991, p. 440).
Diego had traveled to Paris in 1925 to join his brother there. Moving into a small, dilapidated studio at 46 rue Hippolyte-Maindron the following year, the brothers quickly became inseparable. As Alberto forged his career as a sculptor, Diego became a constant and crucial presence in his life, and the two quickly became central figures within the avant-garde art world of Paris. “United since childhood by an extreme understanding and the polarity of their complementary temperaments, they lived in symbiosis, without giving up their autonomy,” the artists’ friend Jean Leymarie wrote. “Diego, more mature and removed from his former milieu, surrounded by new friends, revealed his aesthetic sense and his extreme dexterity” (quoted in F. Baudot, Diego Giacometti, Paris, 2001, p. 8).
In addition, Diego was perhaps the artist’s most important model, “a constant referent across the passage of time and changes in technique, scale, and style” (J. Leymarie, quoted in D. Marchesseau, Diego Giacometti, New York, 1987, p. 15). Giacometti’s depictions of his brother reflect the deep fraternal bond between the pair. His was a face he knew more than any other—every line in his brow, every curve of his facial structure, the contours of his deep-set eye sockets, each gaze, flinch, and passing expression were caught by the artist and memorialized in three-dimensional form in his sculptural portrayals. “The great adventure,” Giacometti once said, “is to see something unknown appear every day in the same face” (quoted in M. Peppiatt, Alberto Giacometti in Postwar Paris, exh. cat., Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich, p. 10). It was with his depictions of Diego that Giacometti fully realized this ambitious aim.
Diego (Tête sur socle cubique) is one such work. Raised upon a square base, with his head slightly upturned and gaze raised heavenwards, here Diego appears with a hieratic, iconic presence. More representational than other portraits, the artist has captured the calm, solemn, somewhat inscrutable expression of his brother, creating a work that resonates with majesty and monumentality.

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