Morton G. Neumann, New York (acquired from the above on March 12, 1951)
Morton F. Neumann Family Collection (sold: Sotheby's, New York, May 10, 2000, lot 37)
Acquired at the above sale
London, Thomas Gibson Fine Art Ltd., Alberto Giacometti: Thirteen Bronzes, 1970, illustrated in the catalogue p. 25
New York, Solomon Guggenheim Museum, Alberto Giacometti, 1974, illustrated in the catalogue p. 89
Manchester, Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester, Giacometti: Sculptures, Paintings, Drawings, 1981 (this exhibition was also shown in Bristol and London), illustrated in the catalogue p. 26
Zürich, Kunsthaus & New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Alberto Giacometti, 2001-02, illustrated in the catalogue p. 161
Ernest Scheidegger, Alberto Giacometti – Schriften, Fotos, Zeichnungen, Zürich, 1958, illustration of another cast p. 108
Jacques Dupin, Alberto Giacometti, Paris, 1963, illustration of another cast p. 243
Edward B. Henning, Fifty Years of Modern Art, 1916-1966, Cleveland, 1967, p. 106
Franz Meyer, Alberto Giacometti, Stuttgart, 1968, illustration of another cast pp. 156 & 166
Carlo Huber, Alberto Giacometti, Lausanne, 1970, p. 73
Bernard Lamache-Vadel, Alberto Giacometti, Paris, 1984, illustration of another cast p. 128
Angelica Zandar Rudenstine, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice & New York, 1985, illustration of another cast pp. 352-354
Herbert Matter, Alberto Giacometti, New York, 1987, illustration of another cast p. 59
Edward Dinsenberg, Film noir and the Spaces of Modernity, Cambridge, 2004, illustration of another cast p. 116
Timothy Mathews, Alberto Giacometti, The Art of Relation, London, 2014, illustration of another cast p. 228
La Place was conceived in an urban context. The platform on which the figures are positioned relates to a city square, and the juxtaposition of figures suggests the way in which isolated city dwellers pass without stopping or interacting. The male figures appear to stride forward, while the female figure stands still. "A bit like ants, each one seems to move of its own accord, alone, in a direction ignored by the rest" is how Giacometti described the urban phenomenon portrayed in his sculpture. "They meet, pass close by each other, don't they? Without either seeing or looking at one another. Or else they revolve around a woman. A motionless woman, and four men who are walking in relation to the women, more or less. I realised that I can only make women who are still and men who are walking. The women I make are motionless and the men I make are always walking."
Over the next two decades Giacometti would reinterpret these figures in his best known works, from Homme qui marche to the the nine Femmes de Venise. Walking men and motionless women became the main characters in his drama of humanity, and his identity as an artist became inextricably linked with these images. The scale of his figures in La Place, unlike those in his sculptures from the 1950s or 1960s, is said to be a result of his experience transporting his belongings in a matchbox following the war and his fascination with perspective as shaped by cinematic experiences.
Referring to the new perception of people and the space surrounding them that informs the present composition, Giacometti recounted that, upon leaving a cinema in 1945, he suddenly felt that "people seemed like a completely foreign species, mechanical... mindless machines, like men in the street who come and go... a bit like ants, each one going about his own business, alone ignored by the others. They crossed paths, passed by, without seeing each other, without looking... In the street people astound and interest me more than any sculpture or painting. Every second the people stream together and go apart, they approach each other to get closer to one another. They unceasingly form and reform living compositions in unbelievable complexity... " (quoted in Pierre Schneider, 'Ma longue marche par Alberto Giacometti', in L'Express, Paris, 8th June 1961, pp. 48-50).
The present work is cast number 4 in a numbered edition of 6 bronzes. Giacometti sent this cast to his dealer Pierre Matisse in New York, where it was acquired by the collector Morton B. Neumann in 1951. In a letter to his dealer dated September 2, 1948, Giacometti writes to Matisse about La Place and other casts he planned to send for sale. A sketch of the sculpture appears in the letter. Another cast of this sculpture is located in the Alberto Giacometti Stiftung, Zurich.
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