ALBERTO GIACOMETTI (1901-1966)
ALBERTO GIACOMETTI (1901-1966)
ALBERTO GIACOMETTI (1901-1966)
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ALBERTO GIACOMETTI (1901-1966)
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On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF JOHN AND SALLY LEVY
ALBERTO GIACOMETTI (1901-1966)

Femme debout (Poseuse I)

Details
ALBERTO GIACOMETTI (1901-1966)
Femme debout (Poseuse I)
signed and numbered 'Alberto Giacometti 2⁄6' (on the top of the base); inscribed with foundry mark 'Susse Fondeur Paris' (on the right side of the base)
bronze with dark brown patina
Height: 21 7⁄8 in. (55.5 cm.)
Conceived in 1954 and cast in 1963
Provenance
Galerie Claude Bernard, Paris.
Anon. sale, Sotheby’s, New York, 20 May 1982, lot 158.
Acquired at the above sale by the late owners.
Literature
R. Hohl, Alberto Giacometti, New York, 1971, p. 197 (another cast illustrated; titled Femme nue).
Y. Bonnefoy, Alberto Giacometti, Biographie d'une oeuvre, Paris, 1991, p. 384, no. 359 (another cast illustrated; titled Standing Nude without Arms).
The Alberto Giacometti Database, no. 4424.
Special notice

On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. This is such a lot.

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Emily Kaplan
Emily Kaplan Senior Vice President, Senior Specialist, Co-head of 20th Century Evening Sale

Lot Essay

After the archetypal figures of the late 1940s, at the start of the new decade, Alberto Giacometti returned to working on a smaller scale. Feeling that he had exhausted the aesthetic potential of his exaggeratedly attenuated depictions of the human form, he once more looked to reality as the impetus for his art. As a result, his sculptures became more three-dimensional as he returned to working from life, frequently using his wife, Annette, as a model.
Conceived in 1954, Femme debout (Poseuse I) is one such work. In contrast to their earlier counterparts, these figures are rendered with undulating silhouettes, endowed with a heightened sense of female physicality. While the former works were more visionary in their aesthetic, these are more material and earthbound. Here, Giacometti has vigorously modeled the figure, leaving accretions of clay that seem to pool and disperse, imparting a sense of dynamism and flickering life to this hieratic, enigmatic and haunting figure of a woman.
Works such as Femme debout (Poseuse I), with its inscrutable visage, and static pose, have engendered a host of artistic interpretation and description. Upon visiting the artist’s famed studio on the rue Hippolyte, David Sylvester was captivated by the artist’s female figures, describing, “They rise from the ground as if rooted. And they are poised in flight like medieval saints zooming complacently up to heaven. They are deities, remote, imperious, untouchable, and they are vulnerable naked girls trying to attract customers at a cabaret. They are like dancers when a dancer stands motionless and seems to be drawing her body and the ambient air inward to a still center. And they are like the dead, their heads indrawn and dry as skulls, limbs bound as though bandaged for the grave” (Looking at Giacometti, London, 1994, pp. 30-31).
On a visit to Giacometti’s studio in 1957, Jean Genet was similarly drawn to the artist’s female figures, at once familiar and timeless, powerful and vulnerable. He wrote: “They give me this odd feeling: they are familiar, they walk in the street, yet they are in the depths of time, at the source of all being; they keep approaching and retreating in a sovereign immobility. If my gaze attempts to tame them, to approach them, then—but not furiously, not ranting or raging, simply by means of a distance between them and myself that I had not noticed, a distance so compressed and reduced it made them seem quite close—they take their distance and keep it: it is because this distance between them and myself has suddenly unfolded. Where are they going? Although their image remains visible, where are they?” (quoted in E. White, ed., The Selected Writings of Jean Genet, trans. R. Howard, Hopewell, 1993, p. 317).
The female figure was one of the most important themes in Giacometti’s art. In many ways this motif culminated in the series of nine individual sculptures, known as the Femmes de Venise, which the artist created for the 1956 Venice Biennale. In creating these figures, Giacometti combined both the insights he had taken from his recent reembrace of the portrayal of reality, while at the same time, pursuing an inner vision of his subject. Giacometti, therefore, did not work from a living model while modeling the Femmes de Venise. Instead he created mainly from memory. While utilizing his recent experience of having worked so intensively from life, he proceeded to shape a daily procession of female figures with the spontaneous, instinctual and practiced motions of his adept hands.

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