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Details & Cataloguing

Œuvres sur Papier

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Paris

Alberto Giacometti
1901 - 1966
PORTRAIT DE LOUIS ARAGON
signed Alberto Giacometti and dated 46 (lower right)
pencil on paper
21 1/8 x 14 1/2 in.
Executed in 1946.
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The authenticity of this work has been confirmed by the Comité Giacometti and it is recorded in the Alberto Giacometti database under the number 3691.

Provenance

Annick and Pierre Berès, Paris
Private collection, England (by descent)

Exhibited

Geneva, Musée Rath et Paris, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Alberto Giacometti, Retour à la figuration 1933-1947, 1986, illustrated in the catalogue p. 9 
Berlin, Staatliche Museen Preuβischer Kulturbesitz et Stuttgart, Staatsgalerie, Alberto Giacometti, Skulpturen-Gemälde-Zeichnunge-Graphik, 1988, no. 100, illustrated in the catalogue p. 219
Germany, Kunsthaus Apolda Avantgarde & Museum Kunsthaus Kleve, Alberto Giacometti Portraits, 2001, no. 9, illustrated in the catalogue
London, Lefevre Fine Art & Thomas Gibson Fine Art, Alberto Giacometti, 2004, illustrated in the catalogue p. 33
London, Lefevre Fine Art & Thomas Gibson Fine Art, Works on paper, 2005, no. 24, illustrated in the catalogue p. 53

Literature

Bernard Lamarche-Vadel, Alberto Giacometti, Paris, 1984, illustrated p. 104
Herausgegeben von Axel Matthes, Louis Aragon mit Anderson Wege zu Giacometti, Munich, 1987, illustrated p. 20
Angela Schneider, Alberto Giacometti, Sculpture, Painting, Drawings, Munich, New York, 1994, illustrated no. 65

Catalogue Note

The encounter between Louis Aragon and Alberto Giacometti goes back to 1929, the beginning of a long friendship that lasted several decades. It was during this period that Giacometti became close to the Parisian Surrealist group led by André Breton. In 1931 he exhibited alongside Joan Miro and Jean Arp at the Galerie Pierre and became friends with important figures of the Surrealist movement such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and André Masson. Giacometti was excluded from this group in 1935. However, the oneiric expression so dear to the Surrealists remained strongly present in his works.

In 1946, Alberto Giacometti painted a series of portraits of artistic and literary personalities. Simone de Beauvoir, Marie-Laure de Noauilles or George Bataille figure among his models.

Here Giacometti captures Louis Aragon in a familiar attitude, sitting in his living room. Beyond the record of the friendship that linked the two men, this work is a masterful illustration of Giacometti’s talent as a draughtsman. For him, drawing was the most immediate means of capturing the truth of the person facing him. “It is important to say, I believe, that, whether about sculpture or painting, only drawing counts. One must attach oneself solely and exclusively to drawing.” (Alberto Giacometti, Entretien avec Georges Charbonnier,  Ecrits, Paris, 1951). As Florian Rodari so rightly describes (" Giacometti l'ajusteur", exhibition catalogue Alberto Giacometti. Le dessin à l'œuvre, Paris, Centre Pompidou, 2001), the artist concentrates primarily on the model’s gaze which emerges out of a tangle of vibrant, hatched lines. Vigorous line becomes a vast network ensnaring the subject. The silhouette of the poet or writer, of remarkable presence, seems modeled here by multiple biting lines which focus all the drawing’s intensity in the model’s face. In this composition Giacometti gives a moving tribute to the passionate relationship that united Louis Aragon to Elsa Triolet, a woman of letters and muse to the poet represented here in a picture placed on the mantelpiece.

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