Impressionist & Modern Art

Giacometti – Master of Form

By Sotheby's

T he upcoming Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale will be highlighted by an extremely rare work by the master of sculpture, Alberto Giacometti. The striking Grande figure, 1947, is cast in bronze with gold patina and stands at 130cm tall. The year 1947 was of crucial importance for Giacometti and many of his most celebrated creations such as L’Homme qui marche and L’Homme au doigt date from that period. After years of self-imposed exile in his native Switzerland, in 1945 the artist returned to his spiritual home, Paris. His brother Diego had remained in the city, and as a result Alberto was able to return to the studio he had left behind. It was here that he could fully explore the ideas that fascinated him, and thus began a period of prolific production. 

During this time, Giacometti developed what would come to be seen as the eponymous themes of his work: the walking man, the bust, and the standing woman. A rare, unique work, Grande figure relates closely to the other tall figures of 1947 and is among the earliest examples of the slender, elongated female figures that anticipate the iconic later series of women including the Femmes de Venise, 1956, and the Grandes femmes, 1960.


Prior to the creation of Grande figure, Giacometti had spent time studying Egyptian statues and iconography, and his decision to render this elegant figure in gold can perhaps be credited to this period of research and interest. Giacometti was fascinated with the art of the past and saw it as a gateway to creating art of the future, and stated: "I am very interested in art but I am instinctively more interested in truth… The more I work, the more I see differently." The current retrospective at Tate Modern in London reinforces Giacometti's status as the leading figure of modernist sculpture, examining his epoch-defining works, and the significance of his career in the story of 20th Century Western art.

Helena Newman, Global Co-Head of Sotheby's Impressionist & Modern Art Department & Chairman of Sotheby's Europe, said: "This stunning golden figure stands tall among the definitive achievements of 20th century art. The emotive symbolism of Giacometti's existential works is universally resonant and his ground-breaking figures have attained iconic status across the globe. Having sold both his L'Homme qui marche I (Walking Man I) and then his Chariot it is thrilling for us to now bring his Grande figure to the market, a rare unique work from 1947 when he produced many of his most celebrated works."

Grand figure will be on display at Sotheby's New York from 6-9 June, before returning to London for Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale


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