Alberto Giacometti - Design New York Wednesday, July 29, 2020 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • Provenance

    Private collection, New York

  • Literature

    Waldemar George, "Jean-Michel Frank," Art et Décoration, no. 3, 1936, p. 98
    Michel Butor, Diego Giacometti, Paris, 1985, p. 130
    Diego Giacometti, Möbel und Objekte aus Bronze, exh. cat., Museum Bellrive, 1988, Zurich, p. 31, no. 9
    Léopold Diego Sanchez, Jean-Michel Frank, Adolphe Chanaux, Paris, 1997, p. 239 for an example in gold
    Pierre-Emmanuel Martin-Vivier, Jean-Michel Frank: The Strange and Subtle Luxury of the Parisian Haute-Monde in the Art Deco Period, New York, 2006, p. 323

  • Catalogue Essay

    The present lot is registered by the Fondation Alberto and Annette Giacometti in the online Alberto Giacometti Database (AGD) under the number AGD 4254.

    Alberto Giacometti began creating lighting and other decorative works in the late 1920s and continued throughout the 1930s during a period of intense collaboration with the designer Jean-Michel Frank. Giacometti went on to design around 100 objects for Frank, including lighting, vases, bowls, and sometimes larger works such as fireplace surrounds, wall plaques, and ceiling lights. Among the more notable Frank interiors to include Giacometti designs were Elsa Schiaparelli’s showroom on Place Vendôme (1934); Jean-Pierre Guerlain’s apartment (1935) and Jorge Born’s villa, Buenos Aires (1939). Giacometti assigned equal importance to his decorative works and sculptures. As he explained in a 1962 interview with André Parinaud, “For my livelihood, I accepted to make anonymous utilitarian objects for a decorator at that time, Jean-Michel Frank. […] it was mostly not well seen. It was considered a kind of decline. I nevertheless tried to make the best possible vases, for example, and I realized I was developing a vase exactly as I would a sculpture and that there was no difference between what I called a sculpture and what was an object, a vase!”

    The Écossais lamp is notable for Giacometti’s use of plaster, which he prized it for its malleability and sense of fragility. The filmmaker Ernst Scheidegger, who documented Giacometti’s studio from the 1940s-1960s, also remarked upon plaster’s natural tendency towards chiaroscuro: “As a white material plaster is superbly well suited to bringing a figure to life using light and shade...the plaster casts reproduced Alberto’s work in a much more differentiated and lively way than many of the bronzes could.” Scheidegger was referring to Giacometti’s later sculptural work, but Giacometti’s affinity for plaster was already evident in the Écossais lamp, whose face comes to life through the play of shadow and light across the faceted surface. It’s not clear what the origin of the title Écossais (Scottish) refers to, but the model appears in the Giacometti archives very early on.

    Frank positioned Giacometti’s lighting in prominent locations, as works of art meant to stand out from their stark surroundings, the sole recognizable elements in spaces largely defined by the anonymity of their forms. Giacometti and Frank developed a close friendship and the artist’s lighting and objects became a hallmark of the designer’s interiors. In a letter, Frank playfully cajoled him to produce more: “PS.: Everyone who comes here or to the studio swoons over your work. That’s the only thing they like. If you make more models, perhaps I’ll be able to buy myself a suit. Don’t forget me = lamps, vases, and when will there be furniture? Tables, chairs, armchairs, beds, sofas, etc.?”

Property of a Gentleman


"Écossais" table lamp

circa 1935
Plaster, paper shade.
Height of cast: 20 1/2 in. (52.1 cm), including shade: 31 1/4 in. (79.4 cm) high
Base incised AG 01. Together with a certificate of authenticity from the Comité Giacometti.

$100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for $112,500

Contact Specialist
+1 212 940 1265


New York Auction 29 July 2020