Lot 38
  • 38

Diego Giacometti

2,000,000 - 3,000,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Diego Giacometti
  • Bibliothèque de l'Île Saint-Louis
  • Wood, metal and bronze
  • 129 3/4 by 170 3/4 by 142 7/8 in.
  • 329.57 by 433.71 by 362.7 cm


Marc Barbezat, Paris (commissioned from the artist)


Daniel Marchesseau, Diego Giacometti, Paris, 2005, n.n., details of the present work illustrated pp. 80-81

Catalogue Note

Diego Giacometti is perhaps best known as the frequent model for his older brother Alberto Giacometti for many of the latter's sculptures, drawings and paintings, particularly throughout the 1950s. Alberto and Diego were inseparable for forty years; Diego was his brother’s model, adviser and confidant who also was responsible for all of the bronze casting of his works and entrusted with the majority of their patinating. Alberto spoke fondly of the brother’s close bond and justified the choice of his brother Diego as the subject of his greatest works as based on his comfortability and familiarity with Diego: "He's sat for me thousands of times," Alberto Giacometti said. "When 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 (exhibition catalogue), Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg & Museum der Moderne Mönchsberg, Salzburg, 2010-11, p. 140).

Following the death of Alberto in 1966, Diego devoted the remainder of his life to the production of decorative arts. As Robert Wernick writes, “Diego had very clear and simple ideas of what furniture should be like: simple, practical, comfortable, solid. What he built happened to also have a strength and grace, a wiriness and self-assurance that set it apart from any other furniture” (quoted in F. Francisci, Diego Giacometti, Catalogue de l’oeuvre, Paris, 1986, vol. I, p. 20).

Executed circa 1966-69, three years following the death of Alberto, Diego Giacometti’s exceptional Bibliothèque de l'Île Saint-Louis ranks among the most important works of his career. Measuring over ten and a half feet in height and twelve feet in length, the present work is without question the largest scale commission from the artist’s oeuvre. The present work was commissioned specifically for a private apartment located on the Île Saint-Louis owned by Marc Barbezat, a collector and the publisher and founder of Editions de l’Arbalète. The present work exemplifies the zenith of Diego’s creativity and his expert understanding of materials. Despite its grandness, Bibliothèque de l'Île Saint-Louis is a testament to Diego’s delicate style. The clean Greek lines which are the signature of his tables and chairs are present here in the thinness of the bookcase shelves and alternation between closed and open shelving. The overall frame of the present work is clad in an undulating, gold patinated bronze that lends the structure warmth and intimacy. Situated atop the structure are trees and birds which are quintessential motifs within the artist’s lexicon, and here serve as sentinels which imbue the piece with Diego’s poetry, humor and nature.

Other important commissioned works by Diego Giacometti include an outstanding collection of fifty items of furniture designed exclusively for the refurnishing of the Hôtel Salé, a seventeenth-century private home that was converted to become the Musée Picasso in Paris. In addition to the Musée Picasso in Paris, Diego Giacometti was commissioned for projects at other prestigious cultural institutions including the Fondation Maeght in Saint-Paul-de-Vence and the Chagall Museum in Nice. Diego also worked with renowned and important interior designers such as Georges Geffroy, Henri Samuel and Jean-Michel Frank and created one of a kind works for their clients. Social luminaries including Mrs. Paul Mellon, Gunter Sachs and Hubert de Givenchy flocked to Diego’s studio enthralled by his whimsical and delicate style.