The Comité Giacometti has confirmed the authenticity of this work. It will be included in the catalogue raisonné being prepared by the Foundation Alberto and Annette Giacometti.
This work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné being prepared by the Association Alberto and Annette Giacometti and Mary Lisa Palmer.
By 1950 Giacometti felt that he exhausted the possibilities inherent in the attenuated, stick-like figures that he made in "visionary, weightless style" during the late 1940s, for which he had become famous. Giacometti now sought to reclaim a more realistic and concrete sense of space, and to establish a more physical presence for the figure within this space, without sacrificing the acute degree of expressivity that he had worked so long and hard to achieve. His habitual practice of drawing set this new phase in motion, which he then carried over into his painting and sculpture. He began to work again directly from the model, most frequently his wife Annette, as seen here, or his brother Diego. Yves Bonnefoy observed that "Giacometti had indeed chosen the existence of individuals, the here and now as the chief object of his new and future study he instinctively realized that this object transcended all artistic signs and representations, since it was no less than life itself" (in Alberto Giacometti: A Biography of his Work, Paris, 1991, p. 369).
The nudes of the early 1950s are more robust and full-bodied than those he had rendered previously, qualities which are apparent as well in the Nu debout series of 1953 (fig. 1), and in the first of the Femme de Venise sculptures, 1956 (see lot 6). Jacques Dupin has written that "the figures and heads are obtained by dense curved lines, fluid and nervous, a mesh of lines which appear subject to a circular, or more precisely, centripetal force. In its rapid whorls the drawing carves out depth, or rather breathes it in, opens itself to it and renders it active between the strokes. It is though a force issuing from within beings or things gushes out like a fluid through the interstices of the drawing and the porousness of forms. The interruptions and accumulations of line are never felt as superfluous repetitions and incongruous stops since they are equivalent to the eye's mobility. They contribute to give the objects this trembling, this feeling of truth and life" (in Giacometti: Three Essays, New York 2003, pp. 32-33).
These nude female figures owed little if anything to the conventions of the subject. Posed frontally, rigidly seated or standing bolt upright, his women display nothing like the flowing contours of a Matisse odalisque, the clever and deforming linear machinations of a late Picasso nude (for which that artist did not actually work from a model), or the frenzied slashes of a de Kooning bather. Giacometti's female nude exists apart from all this. She is absolutely naked; she is completely and utterly exposed, even semi-transparent. Divested of many familiar accoutrements, and posed in the severe geometry of an austere studio space, she is never enticing or sexy. Yet she possesses an extraordinarily commanding presence like no other in modern art. She is towering, majestical, imperturbable, distant and untouchable. Like a religious icon, she completely dominates the space she inhabits. She stares outward; she appears impassive, yet her presence is confrontational. Jean-Paul Sartre wrote that she is "a woman complete, glimpsed, furtively desired, a woman who moved away and passed given, refused, near, far, a woman complete whose delicious plumpness is haunted by a secret thinness, and whose terrible thinness by a suave plumpness, a complete woman, in danger on this earth, and who lives and tells us of the astonishing adventure of the flesh, our adventure. For she, like us, was born" (in "The Search for the Absolute," Alberto Giacometti Sculptures, Paintings and Drawings, exh. cat., Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York, 1948).
(fig. 1) Alberto Giacometti, Nu debout IV, 1953. Sale, Christie's New York, 13 May 1998, lot 235. Copyright 2007 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York ADAGP, Paris BARCODE 25238525