“These sculpted faces compel one to face them as if one were speaking to the person," Yves Bonnefoy has written, "meeting his eyes and thereby understanding better the compression, the narrowing that Giacometti imposed on the chin or the nose or the general shape of the skull. This was the period when Giacometti was most strongly conscious of the fact that the inside of the plaster or clay mass which he modeled was something inert, undifferentiated, nocturnal, that it betrays the life he sought to represent, and that he must therefore strive to eliminate this purely spatial dimension by constricting the material to fit the most prominent characteristics of the face. This is exactly what he achieves with amazing vigor when, occasionally, he gave Diego's face a blade-like narrowness - drawing seems to have eliminated the plaster, the head has escaped from space - and demands therefore that the spectator stand in front of the sculpture as he did himself, disregarding the back and sides of his model and as bound to a face-to-face relationship as in the case of work at an easel. As Giacometti once said, "There is no difference between painting and sculpture." Since 1945, he added, "I have been practicing them both indifferently, each helping me to do the other. In fact, both of them are drawing, and drawing has helped me to see” (Y. Bonnefoy, Alberto Giacometti, A Biography of His Work, Paris, 1991, pp. 432-36).
Giacometti's choice of his brother Diego as the subject of this significant sculpture was based on his comfortability and familiarity with his model. "He's sat for me thousands of times," Giacometti said. "When's he's sitting there, I don't recognize him. I like to get him to sit, so as to see what I see" (reprinted in Alberto Giacometti, The Origin of Space, ibid, p. 140). Like the hauntingly beautiful paintings of his brother which Giacometti executed at the same time, Buste de Diego demonstrates the artist's fascination with the emotive power of the sitter's face.
Viewed from different vantage points, the present sculpture can be seen as two distinct heads: the side profile is much more articulated and full-bodied than the elongated, nearly intangible frontal view. According to the archives of the Comité Giacometti, the present work is from an edition of six bronzes that were made at the Susse Foundry between 1957 and 1958. Two bronzes, including the present work and the version which resides at The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. received the number 1/6. Other bronzes from the edition are at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (5/6) and the Yale University Art Gallery (2/6). The original plaster for the present work is at the Alberto Giacometti-Stiftung in Zurich.
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