ALBERTO GIACOMETTI (1901-1966) Figurine entre deux maisons 11 5/8 x 21 x 3 11/16 in (29.5 x 53.3 x 9.4 cm) (Conceived in 1950. This bronze version cast in 1952 by the Alexis Rudier Foundry in an edition of 6, of which two are numbered 6/6)

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Lot 2
ALBERTO GIACOMETTI
(1901-1966)
Figurine entre deux maisons

Sold for US$ 4,950,312 inc. premium
ALBERTO GIACOMETTI (1901-1966)
Figurine entre deux maisons
signed and numbered 'A. Giacometti 6/6' (on the front); inscribed with the foundry mark '.Alexis Rudier. Fondeur. Paris.' (on the back)
bronze with dark brown patina and glass
11 5/8 x 21 x 3 11/16 in (29.5 x 53.3 x 9.4 cm)
Conceived in 1950. This bronze version cast in 1952 by the Alexis Rudier Foundry in an edition of 6, of which two are numbered 6/6

Footnotes

  • The authenticity of this work has kindly been confirmed by the Comité Giacometti. It will be recorded in the online Alberto Giacometti Database as AGD 4328.

    Please note that there has been historic damage to two of the legs and one pane of glass. The present work has undergone conservation; please enquire with the department for further information.

    Provenance
    Galerie Maeght, Paris (acquired directly from the artist in January 1952).
    Amalia de Schulthess Collection, Santa Monica (acquired from the above in March 1952).
    Thence by descent to the present owners.

    Literature
    Exh. cat., Alberto Giacometti, New York, 1950 (another cast illustrated p. 24).
    J. Dupin, Alberto Giacometti, Paris, 1962 (another cast illustrated p. 251).
    M. Coutois, 'La figuration magique de Giacometti' in Art International, vol. VI/5-6, Summer 1962 (another cast illustrated p. 40).
    P. Bucarelli, Giacometti, Rome, 1962 (another cast illustrated no. 39; titled 'Little Figure in a Box').
    Exh. cat., Alberto Giacometti, New York, 1965, no. 34 (another cast illustrated p. 58).
    Exh. cat., Alberto Giacometti: A Retrospective Exhibition, New York, 1974 (cast no. 1/6 illustrated p. 70).
    B. Lamarche-Vadel, Alberto Giacometti, Paris, 1984 (cast no. 1/6 illustrated p. 132).
    Exh. cat., Anciens et nouveaux: choix d'oeuvres acquises par l'Etat ou avec sa participation de 1981 à 1985, Paris, 1985 (cast no. 5/6 illustrated p. 327).
    A. de la Beaumelle & N. Pouillon (eds.), La collection du Musée national d'art moderne, Paris, 1987 (cast no. 5/6 illustrated p. 242).
    R. Hohl et al., Alberto Giacometti, Skulpturen-Gemälde-Zeichnungen-Graphik, exh. cat., Munich, 1987 (cast no. 1/6 illustrated p. 214).
    C. Méndez (ed.), Giacometti: Giovanni (1868-1933), Augusto (1877-1947), Alberto (1901-1966), Diego (1902-1985), exh. cat., Mexico City, 1987 (cast no. 5/6 illustrated p. 82).
    G. Viatte, Peinture, cinéma, peinture, Paris, 1989 (another cast illustrated p. 23).
    Y. Bonnefoy et al., Alberto Giacometti, sculptures, peintures, dessins, exh. cat., Paris, 1991 (cast no. 5/6 illustrated p. 236).
    Exh. cat., Alberto Giacometti, New York, 1994 (cast no. 3/6 illustrated p. 63).
    D. Sylvester, Looking at Giacometti, London, 1994, p. 236.
    T. Stooss & P. Elliott, Alberto Giacometti: 1901-1966, exh. cat., Edinburgh, 1996 (cast no. 5/6 illustrated p. 167).
    A. de la Beaumelle et al., Alberto Giacometti. La collection du Centre Georges Pompidou, Musée national d'art moderne, Paris, 1999 (cast no. 5/6 illustrated p. 143).
    G-G. Lemaire, 'Giacometti' in Art Dossier, Florence, 2000, no. 154 (cast 5/6 illustrated p. 35).
    C. Klemm, Alberto Giacometti, exh. cat., New York, 2001 (another cast illustrated p. 188).
    F. Cohen et al., Sculpture de Derain à Séchas: collection du Centre Pompidou, Musée national d'art moderne, exh. cat., Paris, 2003 (another cast illustrated p. 97).
    A. de la Beaumelle, M-L. Bernadac & D. Hollier (eds.), Leiris & Co., exh. cat., Metz, 2015 (cast no. 5/6 illustrated p. 249).
    E. Schlicht (ed.), Giacometti – Nauman, exh. cat., Cologne, 2016 (another cast illustrated p. 119).
    L. Fritsch & F. Morris (eds.), Giacometti, exh. cat., London, 2017 (cast no. 1/6 illustrated p. 226).
    C. Grenier et al., Alberto Giacometti: une aventure moderne, exh. cat., Paris, 2019 (cast no. 5/6 illustrated p. 94).


    "Every sculpture, parting from space as an existent entity is a fake, there is only the illusion of space."
    - Alberto Giacometti


    The present work was created in 1950 in anticipation of Alberto Giacometti's second US solo show at Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York. To prepare for the exhibition, Giacometti wrote extensively about his latest body of work and sent a detailed list with descriptions to his dealer, which included sketches of his recent sculptures. Some studies illustrated groupings of figurines that were moving in different directions in an open space, such as the multi-figural sculpture La place (1948). Describing other works, Giacometti wrote, "the figures were isolated, walking light and airy, on long elongated platforms, such as Homme traversant une place par une matinée de soleil, Moi me hatant dans une rue sous la pluie, and a study of the present work which Giacometti described as a 'Figurine dans une boite entre deux qui sont des maisons' (A small figure in a box between two boxes which are houses)" (Alberto Giacometti quoted in A. de la Beaumelle et al., Alberto Giacometti, la collection du Centre Georges Pompidou, Musée national d'art moderne, Paris, 1999, p. 142). Consequently, earlier publications and exhibitions often refer to Figurine entre deux maisons by this description.

    Ultimately, fourteen of these recent works were selected for the Pierre Matisse Gallery exhibition, including another cast of the present work. These sculptures embody Giacometti's transitional phase in the Post-War era, when the perception of scale and perspective started to dominate his creative process, providing a renewed outlook for his sculptural oeuvre. The artist demonstrated his ability to manipulate spatial limitations in the three-dimensional form, investigating the interplay between positive and negative space and exploring the possibilities of structural dynamics and perspective. His figures from the 1950s capture a place and moment in time, whereby Giacometti scrutinized the effect of natural elements such as light and wind on the human figure in urban space. Although Giacometti's two-dimensional works from the 1940s played with this idea, the artist's entire opus would be dominated by this new concept in the following decade.

    Atmospheric observations occupied Giacometti's artistic ideas as early as 1937. One evening he had a revelatory experience when he glimpsed his friend Isabel Hawthorne standing on the Boulevard Saint-Michel, under the midnight sky in the shadow of the buildings that surrounded her. By observing Hawthorne from a distance, her silhouette was reduced, thus eliminating any sense of scale or proportion of her body.

    Hawthorne's solitary presence made a lasting impression on the artist. He later confided to his friend Pierre Dumayet, "Now, when I'm sitting on a terrace, the people walking across are so long (like a thumb). And now, the little woman walking there, I can't bring her back to life-size." Giacometti returns to this concept of scale later, explaining to art critic David Sylvester: "When I look at a woman walking across the street, I can see her very small, it's the wonder of the small character walking through space, and then seeing her appearance becoming smaller as she walks away, my visual field becomes larger. I see a huge space above and around, which is almost limitless" (Alberto Giacometti quoted in A. de la Beaumelle et al., ibid, pp. 142-143).

    In the present work, Giacometti captured such an event of a woman walking in the hic et nunc (here and now) between the void of two "houses." He created an intimate image whereby the viewer, at a distance, follows the figure's journey from one place to another. The separation between figure and viewer is reinforced through panes of glass that serve as a framing device. Indeed, the sculpture resembles that of a freeze-frame, enhanced by the window like the lens of a camera which isolates the figurine in a box, placing her in specific spatial surroundings. Giacometti physically and symbolically elevates the work by placing the quadrangular box-shaped sculpture on four legs, granting the sculpture the status of a sacred reliquary or sarcophagus. Interpretations have been made that Figurine entre deux maisons is a symbol of the transition from life to death that can be traced back to the culture of ancient Egypt. Other profound metaphors have also been used to describe the present work: "This work has been interpreted as depicting a person who caught on the pathway to life, walking from her mother's womb to her grave. Rather than looking at the work this way or accepting its anecdotal interpretation of Annette between Paris and Stampa, it is perhaps preferable to focus on the generality of such succinct images. The charisma of such sculptures arises from an ability to stimulate private associations of the individual viewer" (Christian Klemm quoted in Alberto Giacometti, exh. cat., New York, 2001, p. 184).

    It is interesting to note that Figurine entre deux maisons is one of Giacometti's rare depictions of a woman in motion. There is one earlier example from 1932, titled Femme qui marche which stands in contrast to the present work with its primitive sculptural forms. In most of his portrayals of women, Giacometti immobilized his figures and rooted their inordinately enlarged feet firmly to their pedestals. He abstracted their feminine features and anatomy to a point where the female nudes were almost unrecognizable. Gazing forward in a frozen image, time and space do not appear to be present.

    In Figurine entre deux maisons, however, Giacometti places the figure in a distinctive and separate realm from that of the viewer, thus liberating her from her pedestal and archaic forms. Any static representations of the female shape are seemingly left behind. By imbuing the sculpture with a spatial component, Giacometti reveals a certain level of complexity in the present work which pushes his artistic concept to another stage. On this idea, Valerie J. Fletcher noted that: "In contrast to La place II, where the tiny figures seem lost in a vast open space, this (referring to the present work, Figurine entre deux maisons) composition conveys claustrophobia, as if the woman was an unwilling prisoner within her bronze and glass environment. This tiny figure derived from a plaster Nuit, which has been intended as a maquette for a public monument, possibly a war memorial. The figure in Figurine entre deux maisons would stride forward, while female nudes would stand immobile" (Valerie J. Fletcher quoted in Alberto Giacometti 1901-1966, Washington D.C., 1988, p. 152).

    Figurine entre deux maisons is regarded as one of Giacometti's most important sculptures, as it exemplifies his ideas of perceptual time and space but is also celebrated for its innovative use of material. The present work is one of the few sculptures where Giacometti used glass and bronze together and experimented with patination of the latter. For example, the artist painted white the figure of cast 1/6. In the present work, the artist deliberately chose not to treat the interior, and the golden gleam of the natural color of the bronze stands in stark contrast to the darker, patinated exterior, as if a spotlight shines on the figure. It resonates with Giacometti's observations of urban life, as if the figure in Figurine entre deux maisons is surrounded by tall buildings and catches the shimmering of streetlights.

    As with most of his sculptures, Figurine entre deux maisons is executed in an edition of 6, two of which are numbered 6/6. The present work is one of the casts 6/6 and was originally acquired from Galerie Maeght by Amalia de Schulthess and her former husband Hans by the end of 1952. Since then, the work has always remained in her private collection and has not been publicly exhibited for over 70 years. It is now for the first time that Figurine entre deux maisons appears on the market. The second cast 6/6 is currently housed in another private collection, and other examples of this subject belong to the distinguished collections of the Centre Georges Pompidou and the Alberto Giacometti Fondation in Paris. Over the course of several decades this subject has received international acclaim and has been widely published and exhibited. Other casts of Figurine entre deux maisons were included in important survey exhibitions, most recently at the Tate Modern, London (2017) and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2018).
Contacts
ALBERTO GIACOMETTI (1901-1966) Figurine entre deux maisons 11 5/8 x 21 x 3 11/16 in (29.5 x 53.3 x 9.4 cm) (Conceived in 1950. This bronze version cast in 1952 by the Alexis Rudier Foundry in an edition of 6, of which two are numbered 6/6)
ALBERTO GIACOMETTI (1901-1966) Figurine entre deux maisons 11 5/8 x 21 x 3 11/16 in (29.5 x 53.3 x 9.4 cm) (Conceived in 1950. This bronze version cast in 1952 by the Alexis Rudier Foundry in an edition of 6, of which two are numbered 6/6)
ALBERTO GIACOMETTI (1901-1966) Figurine entre deux maisons 11 5/8 x 21 x 3 11/16 in (29.5 x 53.3 x 9.4 cm) (Conceived in 1950. This bronze version cast in 1952 by the Alexis Rudier Foundry in an edition of 6, of which two are numbered 6/6)
ALBERTO GIACOMETTI (1901-1966) Figurine entre deux maisons 11 5/8 x 21 x 3 11/16 in (29.5 x 53.3 x 9.4 cm) (Conceived in 1950. This bronze version cast in 1952 by the Alexis Rudier Foundry in an edition of 6, of which two are numbered 6/6)
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