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Coupe oblongue

Coupe oblongue
stamped with monogram and numbered 'AG04' (on the underside)
bronze with green and brown patina
Height: 8 in. (23 cm.)
Length: 27 in. (68.8 cm.)
Conceived circa 1948
Diego Giacometti, Paris.
William and Suzanne Weintraub, New York (acquired from the above, April 1969).
By descent from the above to the present owners.
The Alberto Giacometti Database, no. AGD 4417.
Sale room notice
Please note this work is stamped with monogram and numbered 'AG04' on the underside.

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Lot Essay

Giacometti’s keen interest in the decorative arts began in 1929 and was inspired by his long-standing working relationship and friendship with Jean-Michel Frank. The present Coupe oblongue displays Giacometti’s sculptural skills, and his thoughtful execution of this timeless form shows his dedication to historic designs. In a letter to gallerist Pierre Matisse dated 1948, Giacometti acknowledged that creating a decorative object was not far from his process of creating a sculpture: “Objects interest me hardly any less than sculpture, and there is a point at which the two touch.” Pierre Matisse, the son of one of the most influential and innovative artists of the 20th century, was a well-respected gallerist on the Upper East Side in New York. Matisse opened an art gallery in 1931 and developed a lasting friendship with Giacometti shortly after. He was enthusiastic about Giacometti’s work and was the first dealer to show the works of Giacometti, Dubuffet, Miró, Balthus to the world. After two decades of designing decorative art pieces, Giacometti was absolute in his conclusion to Matisse that the Coupe oblongue was his most successful design to date in the field. The present lot is a rare piece of craftsmanship, being only one of three known to exist. The purposeful, organic modelling of this work is a consistent quality of Giacometti’s work and is especially evident in his execution of figural sculptures. Giacometti’s powerful expressive impact can be seen and felt through his purposeful, irregular edges and uneven surfaces.
Giacometti discovered the art of ancient Egypt and antiquity and became enamored during a seven-month sojourn to Italy with his father in 1920. His dedicated study of Egyptian statues, paintings, and bas-reliefs was alongside the exciting discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922. Unlike other artists of this time, Giacometti’s interest in Egyptian art was not a fleeting phase in his art research. The influence of ancient Egyptian art is consistently present in Giacometti’s life. His use of geometry in creating figural forms, profile views, and articulated rhythm of lines and forms was influenced by the Egyptian statues in the museums of Florence and Rome. Works such as Isabel (1936) and Femme qui marche I (1932-1933) are very similar in pose and attitude to known Egyptian sculptures. Giacometti recognized and admired the modernity in the stiff formality of ancient Egyptian design. Greco-Roman furniture also was strongly influenced by Egyptian art, which made use of elements from nature as well as geometric combinations.
The present Coupe oblongue is a wonderful example of Giacometti’s fascination with the sublime lines and proportions of Egyptian designs. The elongated shallow vessel stands on its own as a striking visual centerpiece. The form has been reduced to the most essential elements, without forgoing balance and ideal geometry. The result is profoundly modern.
Christie’s is honored to present this rare Coupe oblongue which was formerly in the collection of William and Suzanne Weintraub, who began correspondence with Diego Giacometti in 1965 and acquired much of their furniture collection directly from the artist in December of the same year. The present work was acquired from Diego in April 1969 and has remained in the family ever since.
The present lot, one of only three Coupes oblongues registered by the Fondation Alberto and Annette Giacometti on the online Alberto Giacometti Database is listed as AGD 4417.

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