Alberto Giacometti - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session New York Wednesday, May 16, 2018 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Annette Giacometti
    Private Collection (gifted by the above in 1970)
    Sotheby's, Tel Aviv, April 26, 1997, lot 337
    Private Collection (acquired at the above sale)
    Christie’s, New York, May 8, 2002, lot 316
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    An elegant example of one of the most iconic images in the artist’s oeuvre, the standing female nude, Alberto Giacometti’s Figurine exudes a striking presence remarkable for its delightful size. At the end of the 1930s, Giacometti began sculpting figures at a reduced scale, at once suggesting the appearance of viewing a person from a distance as well as reflecting the image becoming more and more distant in the artist’s mind when working from memory. Having left occupied Paris for Geneva during the Second World War, Giacometti famously returned to his Paris studio in mid-September 1945 with all of his work from the previous four years contained in six matchboxes. These miniature sculptures became a symbol of resilience and the hardships of postwar Europe, and a number of them were published in the journal Cahiers d'art in 1946. While not quite in the elusive, minuscule size of his wartime sculptures, the present work reflects Giacometti’s tendency to work in a reductive scale, condensing distinctive features into intimate details that allude to a sense of experiencing the figure from far-off.

    Giacometti began to develop what would become known as his iconic sculptural style in the late 1940s - elongated and remarkably slender nude figures, executed with gouged, animated surfaces. These sculptures were based on very few models, principally his brother Diego and his wife Annette, and most often took the form of a walking man and standing female. His acclaimed 1948 retrospective at Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York was the first time his recent, attenuated sculptures were presented to an American audience and sparked his rise to international fame. The accompanying introduction written by Sartre framed Giacometti’s works in an existentialist light and initiated perceptions of his practice reflecting an acute consciousness of the anxieties of postwar Europe.

    Conceived in 1953-1954, the present work closely resembles a group of life studies from the early 1950s modelled after his wife Annette, whom he married in 1949. Giacometti, in fact, gifted the plaster model of Figurine to Annette at the beginning of their marriage. Presented as a singular figure in a formal, frontal pose, Figurine typifies Giacometti’s expression of the female nude as seen, for example, in his famed series Femme de Venise. Exhibited at the French Pavilion of the 1956 Venice Biennale, Giacometti’s Femme de Venise can be viewed as a synthesis of his earlier, groundbreaking thin sculptures and his life studies from the early 1950s, from which the present work dates. The rough, expressive handling and timeless nature of Figurine are testament to Giacometti’s singular mastery of form.



incised with the artist's signature "A. Giacometti" on the left side of the base; further incised with the number and foundry mark "6/8 L. THINOT fondeur" on the reverse of the base
bronze with black and gold patina
4 1/4 x 1 3/8 x 1 5/8 in. (10.7 x 3.5 x 4.1 cm.)
Conceived in 1953-1954 and cast in 1969, this work is number 6 from an edition of 8 and is recorded in the Alberto Giacometti Database under number 3854, and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity provided by the Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti.

The Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti has kindly confirmed the authenticity of this work.

$150,000 - 200,000 

Sold for $447,000

Contact Specialist
John McCord
Head of Day Sale, Morning Session
New York
+1 212 940 1261

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session

New York Auction 16 May 2018