The Comité Giacometti has confirmed the authenticity of this painting. It will be included in the catalogue raisonné being prepared by the Foundation Alberto and Annette Giacometti.
The Association Alberto and Annette Giacometti has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
This late still-life of apples set on a table-top recalls one of the most important pictures in all of Giacometti's oeuvre, Pomme sur un buffet, which the artist painted in his family's home in Majola during the summer of 1937 (fig. 1). Giacometti had seen the exhibitions held in Paris and Basel the previous year to honor the thirtieth anniversary of Cézanne's death. He had already decided he would no longer create the dream objects which had pre-occupied him in the early 1930s, and had recently ended his association with André Breton and the Surrealists. He was working again from life, and the lessons of Cézanne's painting help provide a crucial conceptual framework for observing the relationships between objects in space and their rendering on the picture plane. Giacometti, in Pomme sur un buffet, embarked on the reductionist process that would bear fruit in the years following the Second World War and characterize his interaction with reality for the rest of his career. The artist later recalled, "On my mother's sideboard there were the makings of a pretty still life: a bowl, some plates, some flowers and three apples. But it was impossible to paint it all as to sculpt a head from life, so I took away the bowl, the plates and the flowers. But have you tried to see three apples simultaneously at a distance of three meters? So I took two of them away. And I had to diminish the third, for it was still too much to paint" (quoted in Y. Bonnefoy, Alberto Giacometti: A Biography of his Work, Paris, 1991, pp. 255-256).
Painted twenty years later, Nature morte aux pommes contains multiple objects, but otherwise retains the guiding minimalist spirit that informed the earlier still-life. Here are seven apples, arranged in a threesome with two flanking pairs, three bottles, and a vase of flowers in the right background. The objects are barely suggested, however, and the massive architecture seen in the 1937 still-life has been dissolved in a milky haze of light, which virtually obliterates all sense of solid form. This reality is elusive and transient. David Sylvester recalled Giacometti's own words, "The days pass, and I delude myself that I am trapping, holding back, what's fleeting" and points to the example of Cézanne who had stated, according to Joachim Gasquet, "Everything we see vanishes, doesn't it? Nature is always the same, but nothing remains of it, of what we see. Our art has to inspire a feeling of its permanence while still showing the elements of all its changes. It has make us sense it as eternal" (quoted in Looking at Giacometti, New York, 1994, p. 35). Sylvester continued:
The greatness of Giacometti's art is that it is tentative but not vague. What this art does is to convey precisely why our sensations of reality cannot be conveyed precisely. Fluidity of vision is reconciled with a crystalline clarity of structure. A precise tentativeness in recording facts is warmed by an intoxicating breath of the sublime. The air is alive. Solid bodies of uncanny lightness are locked into a space charged with a buoyant, exhilarated, numinous energy and filled by light (ibid., pp. 16 and 121).
(fig. 1) Alberto Giacometti, Pomme sur un buffet, 1937. Private collection. BARCODE 23659438