These works come directly from private collectors in Sweden who built up an extraordinary collection which formed a remarkable survey of European Modernism with works by Picasso, Ernst, Arp, Laurens, Chagall, Goncharova as well as examples by contemporary greats, including Calder, Albers and Wesselmann. The majority of the collection was sold at Sotheby’s in February 2013 where it attracted global interest and excitement, selling for a total of just under £9 million. The following four lots were acquired directly from Diego’s studio.
In 1929 Man Ray introduced Alberto Giacometti to the French interior designer Jean-Michel Frank. Frank’s interest in Surrealism and in incorporating Surrealist elements into interiors led to a number of collaborative commissions with both Alberto and Diego for lamps and numerous other decorative accessories. After Alberto’s death in 1966, Diego continued to develop his own expression of design in a wide variety of furnishings and objects with their own very distinct aesthetic.
Pierre-Emmanuel Martin-Vivier has spoken of the way in which Alberto ‘carried out these decorative commissions with the same integrity as his other projects’ and discussed the importance of this area of his artistic output and his influence on his brother Diego’s work in this area too: ‘his most fruitful collaboration was with Jean-Michel Frank, an interior designer with his finger on the pulse of French intellectual life and society in the interwar years. In 1930 Giacometti created over 30 objects for him, plus a number of sculptures, consoles, and chandeliers specially designed for a few privileged clients […] It was while he was assisting his brother with these objects that Diego found his own vocation. Some of Alberto’s most emblematic models were created for Frank, pieces such as […] the series of bronze standard lamps including the models Etoile, Ossellet, and Grande feuille. By sometimes creating very simple objects, Alberto found his way into the highest echelons of artistic, intellectual and society life. Indeed Frank’s clientele mostly consisted of writer friends and major collectors from both sides of the Atlantic’ (Pierre-Emmanuel Martin-Vivier, ‘Alberto Giacometti’s Utilitarian Objects’ in Giacometti (exhibition catalogue), Fondation Beyeler, Basel, 2009, pp. 84-85). Vivier goes on to discuss the importance of Diego’s contribution in its own right: ‘After World War II, Diego Giacometti’s work developed with similarly romantic overtones. The same poetry can be found in his figures: bronze skeletons serving as tables, chairs, and lamps. The unexpected presence of song birds, leaves, heads of lions, frogs, and owls on the furniture, as though in the branches of a tree, gives these pieces a magical feel’ (ibid., p. 86)