The Comité Giacometti has confirmed the authenticity of this work. It will be included in the catalogue raisonné being prepared by the Fondation Alberto and Annette Giacometti.
The Association Alberto and Annette Giacometti has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
Among his many portraits of Diego, Annette, Caroline and a deliberately circumscribed number of other sitters, together with still-lifes and landscapes, Giacometti occasionally painted studio interiors. In these pictures he turned his attention to a section or a corner of his small workspace, and contemplated the miscellaneous things that had collected there. These unremarkable, mundane objects unexpectedly take on special significance. In the present painting, a stove and pipe, a basin and broom dominate center stage, while stretched canvases, with their backs turned outward, appear in the wings.
These studio pictures combine elements of the painter's other subjects. They possess the humble attributes of still-life, yet they seem more casual and unpremeditated. They may be regarded as portraits of inanimate sitters, set against the austere backdrop of the studio space. The present painting appears to have been done over an unfinished portrait, whose residue appears under the present image in the center. This was probably a portrait of the Japanese professor Isaku Yanaihara. Giacometti agonized over his likeness during the late 1950s, and during final sittings in 1961, the date inscribed on this studio interior. Like Giacometti's landscapes, the studio interiors describe a surrounding environment viewed from a vantage point and in spatial perspective, but here without distance or a horizon. His landscapes, conversely, usually appear as airless and confined as these interiors. The studio paintings are, in essence, interior landscapes, a picture of the artist's mind as reflected on the walls that surround him, cluttered with the objects that he lived with from day-to-day, and in some versions, the products of his dedicated labor (see Christie's sale, 1 November 2005, lot 54).
Giacometti used the same studio at 46, rue Hippolyte-Maindron, in the 14th arrondissement, that he rented in 1927, five years after first arriving in Paris, until the end of his life, with a hiatus during the war years. He told Carlton Lake in 1964, "when I took this place in 1927, I thought it was tiny. It was the first place I found, and I had no choice. I planned on moving as soon as I could because it was too small--just a hole. But the longer I stayed the larger it grew, I could do anything here. I've already made my big sculptures here And I had room to paint beside them" (quoted in C. Lake, "The Wisdom of Alberto Giacometti," The Atlantic Monthly, September 1965, pp. 117-126). Giacometti usually slept in his studio or in a hotel nearby. The old stove was for a long time the only amenity; it was not until after the war, when he rented additional space at in the building, that he finally installed running water, electricity and a telephone.
Accounts of Giacometti's studio conjure up a mysterious and otherworldly place. The novelist and playwright Jean Genet wrote, "This studio on the ground floor is going to collapse at any moment. It is made of worm-eaten wood, of gray powder, the sculptures are of plaster, showing bits of string, stuffing, or ends of wire, the canvases, painted gray, have long ago lost the repose of the art supplier's shop, everything is stained and ready for the dustbin, all is precarious, on the verge of disintegration, everything tends to decay and is adrift: well, all of this is possessed as of an absolute reality" (quoted in J. Lord., Giacometti: A Biography, New York, 1983, pp. 350-351).
(fig. 1) Giacometti's studio at 46, rue Hippolyte-Maindron, Paris. Photographed by Ernst Scheidigger. BARCODE 24771535