This remarkable drawing represents an extreme development in Giacometti's drawing technique and may be seen as a graphic counterpart to the stark, attenuated figures that he modeled in the late 1940s, in his iconic manner. Here Giacometti has worked the head at the center of the sheet to such a degree that it has turned a silvery black from the buildup of lead and the aggressive force of his hard pencil has actually abraded the surface of the paper, which has been worn to a fragile state by the repeated application of the pencil and persistent rubbing. Lines have disappeared, and the character of the head is instead projected by a surface that is almost sculptural in its rugged texture, with the minute pricks in the sheet resembling light as it reflects off a form modeled in three dimensions. The act of scratching away fragments of the image is both deliberate in its violence, but accidental and unpredictable in its effect, and may be understood as an aggressive form of erasure. Giacometti has alternately built up and obliterated the image of the sitter, and by the point he desisted and put down his pencil, he had rendered an image that exists in some indefinite, ghostly state between presence and nothingness.
The Alberto and Annette Giacometti Foundation will include this work in their forthcoming catalogue raisonné of Alberto Giacometti.
The Association Alberto and Annette Giacometti has confirmed the authenticity of this work.