- Alberto Giacometti
- BUSTE D'ANNETTE VII
- inscribed Alberto Giacometti, inscribed VII, numbered 1/2 and with the foundry mark Susse Fondeur Paris
- height: 60cm.
- 23 5/8 in.
Private Collection, New York
Thomas Gibson Fine Art Ltd., London
Private Collection, Switzerland
Wolfgang Wittrock Kunsthandel, Düsseldorf
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1997
Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti, L'Atelier d'Alberto Giacometti, Paris, 2007, no. 255, fig. 301, colour illustration of the plaster p. 182
Women played a complex role in Giacometti's life and his representation of them occupies nearly half his artistic production. Giacometti met his wife, Annette Arm, whilst living in Geneva during World War II. In 1946 she accompanied him back to Paris, and they eventually married in July 1949. The present work, Buste d'Annette VII, was created later in the relationship in 1962, and belongs to a series of busts that the artist made of his wife that are sculpted with intense energy, and are characterised by the figure's slender neck emerging from the quivering mass that supports it. This portrait demonstrates Giacometti's belief that sculpture should seek the essential quality of the sitter through distinctive features, in Annette's case her raised head, large eyes, pointed nose and delicate chin. The intense expression of the present work calls to mind the comments of the philosopher Jean Starobinski, who commented on meeting Annette: 'She was a young woman who stood up 'facing you', who watched, and spoke, and met life 'head on', infinitely candid and infinitely reserved, in a wonderful frontality' (quoted in Veronique Wiesinger, The Women of Giacometti (exhibition catalogue), Pace Wildenstein, New York, 2000, p. 18).
Giacometti paid significant attention to the modelling of his works, and Buste d'Annette VII exhibits a vibrancy and vitality unique to his sculpture. Its rough treatment of the bronze, its recesses and moulds create a dynamic surface, and invite a play of light and shadow in such a way that they become a part of the work itself. In this, his roughly textured figures are reminiscent of artefacts of ancient civilisations, such as Egyptian statues or Cycladic fertility goddesses. The artist himself proclaimed: 'The works of the past that I find the most true to reality are those that are considered the least, the furthest from it' (quoted in Herbert & Mercedes Matter, Alberto Giacometti, New York, 1987, p. 211).
There is only one other cast of Buste d'Annette VII, which is in the collection of The Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco.
Fig. 1, Alberto and Annette Giacometti in his studio, 1951. Photograph by Alexander Liberman