VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price plus buyer's premium.
The following 40 lots comprise one of the most important groups of prints by Alberto Giacometti to have appeared at auction in recent times. It spans nearly his entire graphic career, starting with his first print in 1931, and finishing with his last and perhaps greatest work, the illustrated book Paris sans Fin. The collection embodies all his major pictorial themes and provides a welcome opportunity to follow Giacometti's development as a graphic artist.
Whilst Giacometti's early career saw a close involvement with the Surrealist movement - his first recorded print, a lithograph, Moving, Mute Object (lot 125) produced for La Revue du Surréalisme clearly shows this influence - he quickly developed his own unique and instantly recognisable style. From the outset Giacometti was driven by a desire to represent his personal vision of the external world. In making this vision real he made use of the widest range of techniques, switching from sculpture to painting, drawing to printing. His first contact with printmaking came through drawing when, age 13, he copied Dürer, Rembrandt and the Japanese masters. It is interesting to note that he learned the art of etching at Stanley Hayter's Atelier 17, when it was based in Paris before its move to New York.
Giacometti's graphic oeuvre has three constant and recurrent themes, mirroring his sculpted and painted works: the bust, the human figure - either standing or walking - and interiors. But these subjects were not anonymous, the models were most of the time his close family and the interiors were his own domestic surroundings. His working method, in whatever medium, was to study the same subject again and again - thus we have his wife, Annette, in the Studio (lot 127) and in bust length (lot 132). His mother, Annetta is seen seated (lot 138) and reading (lot 141). The interiors, usually his studio, are filled with the tools of his trade as one would expect, such as paintings and maquettes: The Studio (lot 121); Bust in the Studio (lot 128); and Heads and Stool (lot 130). However, his desire, one might say his obsessive desire, to produce a faithful record of his surroundings, drives to depict simple subject such as his stove (lot 143); his lampshade and even his alarm clock (lot 145). The overall effect is one of intense observation, but one tempered by a love for the things that surrounded him. One is almost reminded of Morandi, a fellow Italian, who also felt able to express his ideas within a narrow range of subjects.
1957 saw the start of his most important graphic project, which would represent almost half his entire graphic output. The publisher Tériade approached him with the idea of making an illustrated book with Paris as its subject. The project was discussed, as usual, in one of the popular Parisian cafes, and it was when leaving that Giacometti looked at the scene spread before him and exclaimed 'Ah! Paris… Paris sans Fin!'. To which Tériade replied 'Vous avez votre titre.'
In Paris sans Fin Giacometti chose the medium of lithography in order to achieve the greatest spontaneity. His technique was to use lithographic crayon on transfer paper rather than to draw on the stone. As such he could work quickly and there was no room for any erasure or rework, which was both a challenge and a great tool for the artist. In a strange echo of the title, the book was left unfinished when Giacometti died in 1966.
THE PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTOR