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Property from a Member of the Matisse Family

Homme (Apollon)

Homme (Apollon)
signed, dated and numbered 'Alberto Giacometti 1929 4/6' (on the back)
bronze with dark brown patina
Height: 15 1/2 in. (39.3 cm.)
Length: 11 3/4 in. (30 cm.)
Conceived in 1929 and cast in 1954
Pierre Matisse, New York.
By descent from the above to the present owner.
M. Leiris, "Alberto Giacometti" in Documents, no. 4, September 1929, pp. 210 and 214 (plaster version illustrated in situ at Galerie Pierre in 1929, p. 214).
P. Bucarelli, Giacometti, Rome, 1962, p. 75, no. 11 (another cast illustrated, p. 95).
J. Dupin, Alberto Giacometti, Paris, 1962, p. 201 (plaster version illustrated).
H. Read, A Concise History of Modern Sculpture, New York, 1964, p. 293, no. 140 (another cast illustrated, p. 143).
G. Régnier, "Alberto Giacometti" in La Revue du Louvre, vol. 19, no. I, 1969, p. 292.
C. Huber, Alberto Giacometti, Paris, 1970, p. 124 (another cast illustrated, p. 28).
R. Hohl, Alberto Giacometti, Stuttgart, 1971, pp. 79 and 307 (another cast illustrated, p. 52).
M. Brenson, The Early Work of Alberto Giacometti: 1925-1935, Ph.D. diss., Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, 1974, pp. 45, 47, 67, 117, 139, 159, 175 and 233-234 (plaster version illustrated, fig. 25).
R. Hohl, Alberto Giacometti: A Retrospective Exhibition, exh. cat., The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1974, pp. 20 and 60, no. 19 (another cast illustrated, p. 60).
B. Lamarche-Vadel, Alberto Giacometti, Paris, 1984, p. 44, no. 61 (another cast illustrated).
C. Juliet, Giacometti, Paris, 1985, p. 20 (another cast illustrated).
P. Beye and D. Honisch, Alberto Giacometti, exh. cat., Nationalgalerie, Berlin, 1987, pp. 59-60 (another cast illustrated, p. 60).
V. Fletcher, Alberto Giacometti, exh. cat., The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C., 1988, pp. 24 and 84, no. 11 (another cast illustrated, p. 85).
K.M. de Barañano, Alberto Giacometti, exh. cat., Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, 1990, pp. 54 and 378, no. 156 (another cast illustrated, p. 379).
C. Klemm, Die Sammlung der Alberto Giacometti-Stiftung, Zurich, 1990, pp. 67 and 153-154, no. 22 (another cast illustrated, p. 67).
Y. Bonnefoy, Alberto Giacometti: A Biography of his Work, Paris, 1991, p. 163, no. 156 (plaster version illustrated, p. 164).
S. Pagé, Alberto Giacometti: Sculptures, peintures, dessins, exh. cat., Musée d'art moderne de la ville de Paris, 1991, p. 132, no. 44 (another cast illustrated).
A. Schneider, ed., Alberto Giacometti: Sculpture, Paintings, Drawings, New York, 1994, pp. 55-56 (plaster version illustrated in situ at Galerie Pierre in 1929, p. 15; other casts illustrated, p. 57 and pl. 17).
D. Sylvester, Looking at Giacometti, New York, 1994, p. 42.
T. Stooss and P. Elliott, Alberto Giacometti, exh. cat., Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, 1996, p. 145, no. 64 (plaster version illustrated in situ at Galerie Pierre in 1929, p. 14, fig. 10; another cast illustrated, p. 145).
C. Klemm, et al., Alberto Giacometti, exh. cat., Kunsthaus Zürich, 2001, pp. 18, 74 and 268, no. 29 (plaster version illustrated in situ at Galerie Pierre in 1929, p. 19, fig. 5; plaster version illustrated, p. 75; another cast illustrated, p. 268).
L. Wilson, Alberto Giacometti: Myth, Magic, and the Man, New Haven, 2003, pp. 28 and 98 (plaster version illustrated in situ at Galerie Pierre in 1929, p. 98, fig. 5.1).
A. González, Alberto Giacometti: Works, Writings, Interviews, Barcelona, 2006, pp. 26 and 28-29 (plaster version illustrated in situ at Galerie Pierre in 1929, p. 32).
M. Fontanella and K.P.B. Vail, eds., Giacometti, exh. cat., The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 2018, pp. 27 and 60 (another cast illustrated, p. 60).
The Alberto Giacometti Database, no. 4461.
New York, Yoshii Gallery, Alberto Giacometti: Early Works in Paris, 1922-1930, April-June 1994, pp. 56 and 131 (illustrated, pl. 8; plaster version illustrated in situ in the Documents Marc Vaux 1929 photograph, p. 57, fig. 45).

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Vanessa Fusco
Vanessa Fusco Head of 20th Century Evening Sale, Head of Impressionist and Modern Art

Lot Essay

Conceived at the inception of Alberto Giacometti’s Surrealist period, among the most important and experimental moments of his career, Homme (Apollon) is one of a series of works that cemented the artist’s reputation within the avant-garde art world of Paris. With its radically reduced framework and lack of a single viewpoint—elements that would become a hallmark of the work produced during Giacometti’s association with the Surrealists—Homme (Apollon) makes a definitive break from traditional sculpture. This work also introduces a number of the recurring themes, specifically the gendered representation of the body and the artist’s preoccupation with the physicality of sexuality, that Giacometti would consistently revisit over the course of his career.
One of an edition of six casts, of which others now reside in museum collections including the Fondation Alberto Giacometti, Paris, Alberto Giacometti Stiftung, Zurich, and Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C., Homme (Apollon) stands therefore as a breakthrough work in the life and art of Giacometti, reflecting his lifelong quest to free himself from the constraints of reality, and instead initiate a new artistic language to depict the deeper, concealed elements of the human experience. Acquired by his dealer, Pierre Matisse, this cast has remained in the Matisse family collection until the present day.
Presenting an archetypal, primordial vision of man, Homme (Apollon) is created schematically, through alternating vertical and horizontal bars that variously evoke legs, ribs and a central spine, demonstrating a new skeletal lightness crucial to Giacometti’s artistic development. While the distortion of the figure is a common thread throughout his work, the transition here from the dense, block-like shapes inspired by Cubism to a more reductive reliance on horizontal and vertical coordinates prefigures his Surrealist works of the first half of the 1930s, particularly his engagement with the “Surrealist Object.”
The work offers a masculine counterpart to another sculpture, Femme couchée qui rêve, also conceived in 1929 (please see lot 5). Seen together, the two sculptures explore the primordial binary system of values attached to the masculine and feminine. The structure of Femme couchée qui rêve is horizontal, evoking the passive state of sleeping; Homme (Apollon) is vertical, evoking an erect state of alertness. In Femme couchée qui rêve, the waves of the two main planes evoke ideas of smoothness, gentleness, movement. In Homme (Apollon) the elements are arranged in a grid: sharp, rigid, solid. The titles of the two works are also revealing. The woman is “dreaming,” her eyes are seemingly closed; while the man, on the contrary, is associated with “Apollo,” the god of the sun, of rationality and the arts. In many ways these binary distinctions would remain prominent throughout Giacometti’s career. The elongated, attenuated figures that he began to create in the late 1940s adhere to these same essential characteristics: man appears in action, walking, pointing, or falling, for example, while his female figures remain motionless, hieratic and sentinel, passive and inscrutable.
In this regard, the pair, Homme (Apollon) and Femme couchée qui rêve exemplify Giacometti’s preoccupations at the time: to explore male and female figures, as well as his desire to distill the human form into a primordial sign, while trying to understand and confront the overruling importance of sexuality. He experimented with signifiers of gender, from seductive feminine torsos modeled after the example provided by Brancusi, to impenetrable Cubist figures. Often, these figures explored the encounter between male and female. In Le Couple (The Museum of Modern Art, New York), totemic male and female figures stand chastely apart, united only by the pedestal upon which they are positioned, their sexual organs emphasized through schematic geometric forms. For a brief period, Giacometti’s couples even became physically intertwined. Composition (Homme et femme) (Tate Modern, London), which predates the present work by two years, is a sturdy composition that retains the influence of Cubism’s fractured planes. The repetitive motifs comprising Composition—concave half-circles, dynamic vertical and horizontal slabs and rods—can be understood to anticipate the structural components of the present work, when considered in partnership with the contemporaneous Femme couchée qui rêve. It is as if after completing Composition the artist simply peeled the piece apart, separating male and female into their discrete bodies. The violence of this separation, too, reverberates through Giacometti’s Surrealist work, much of which concerns unfulfilled sexual desire.
The precise timing of Giacometti’s association with the Surrealists is difficult to pinpoint. He had met André Masson in 1927, who introduced the artist and his work to the poet and writer, Michel Leiris. Two years later, Leiris visited the artist’s studio and subsequently wrote the first in-depth article on the artist ever to be published in the radical Surrealist journal run by one of the movement’s dissident leaders, Georges Bataille, titled Documents. This piece featured photographs of Giacometti’s studio, which included a plaster version of Homme (Apollon) alongside Femme couchée qui rêve. The following year, author and leader of the Surrealists, André Breton, along with Salvador Dalí, saw Giacometti’s Boule Suspendue, among other works, on display at the Galerie Pierre in Paris, after which they invited him to join the Surrealist group.
From this point, Giacometti found himself catapulted into the center of the leading art movement of Paris. Over the course of the 1930s, his work would increasingly align with the tenets of Surrealism as the artist was increasingly championed by the Surrealists. In 1933, Giacometti wrote, “For many years I have executed only sculptures that have presented themselves to my mind entirely completed. I have limited myself to reproducing them in space without changing anything, without asking myself what they could mean… The attempts to which I have sometimes given way, of conscious realization of a picture or even a sculpture, have always failed” (quoted in C. Klemm, Alberto Giacometti, exh. cat., The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2001, p. 24).

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