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Buste de diego
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Buste de diego
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About the item

Buste de Diego belongs to a celebrated series of Alberto Giacometti's sculptural portraits of his younger brother, Diego, who was the primary model for the artist's numerous variations on the theme of head and bust sculptures of the 1950s and 1960s. Throughout their professional lives, the Giacometti brothers (fig. 1) had an intensely close relationship. Diego devoted the major part of his own artistic career to assisting Alberto with his sculpture and supervising the casting of his bronzes. By the early fifties, Alberto had gained considerable critical recognition in Paris and had amassed a broad clientele, while Diego had just begun to design the bronze furniture which would finally make him famous in his own right. Well aware of his younger brother's talent, Alberto encouraged Diego to pursue his own career. Nevertheless, Alberto relied heavily upon his brother's expertise and recognised him as indispensable in the production of the numerous innovative sculptures that had secured Alberto a contract with the Galerie Maeght in 1950. Speaking of this relationship, Annette observed of her husband Alberto on June 1952: 'He remains always his same anxious self, but fortunately, he has a brother who is more calm and understands him well' (quoted in James Lord, Giacometti, A Biography, New York 1983, p. 329).\n\nDiscussing the sculptures executed during this period, Yves Bonnefoy wrote: 'These sculpted faces compel one to face them as if one were speaking to the person, meeting his eyes and thereby understanding better the compression, the narrowing that Giacometti imposed on the chin or the nose or the general shape of the skull. This was the period when Giacometti was most strongly conscious of the fact that the inside of the plaster or clay mass which he modeled was something inert, undifferentiated, nocturnal, that it betrays the life he sought to represent, and that he must therefore strive to eliminate this purely spatial dimension by constricting the material to fit the most prominent characteristics of the face. This is exactly what he achieves with amazing vigor when, occasionally, he gave Diego's face a blade-like narrowness - drawing seems to have eliminated the plaster, the head has escaped from space - and demands therefore that the spectator stand in front of the sculpture as he did himself, disregarding the back and sides of his model and as bound to a face-to-face relationship. As Giacometti once said, 'There is no difference between painting and sculpture.' Since 1945, he added, 'I have been practicing them both indifferently, each helping me to do the other. In fact, both of them are drawing, and drawing has helped me to see' (Y. Bonnefoy, Alberto Giacometti, A Biography of His Work, Paris, 1991, pp. 432-436).\n\nAs in many of the painted portraits of his brother which Giacometti executed at this time, Buste de Diego demonstrates the artist's fascination with the emotive power of the sitter's face. The artist executed these works with the matière pétrie, or kneaded method, that heightened the expressiveness of the figure. As with the present work, Giacometti enhances the realism of the face by precisely incising the features with a knife. But his restless hands, constantly pinching, smoothing and remodelling the surface, are his primary tools. Viewed from different vantage points, the present work can be seen as two distinct heads: the side profile is much more articulated and full-bodied than the elongated, nearly intangible frontal view.\n\nPatrick Elliot wrote about the memorable visual effect of Giacometti's works such as Buste de Diego: 'In conversations, Giacometti observed enormous differences between a side view and a frontal view of an object, as if the two were completely separate things that could not possibly be rendered in a single sculpture. Giacometti normally represented figures as very frontal forms, and is reported to have said that: "when a person appeals to us or fascinates us we don't walk all around him. What impresses us about his appearance requires a certain distance"' (Alberto Giacometti (exhibition catalogue), Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh & Kunsthalle, Vienna, 1996, p. 172).\nInscribed Alberto Giacometti, numbered 2/6 and stamped with the foundry mark Susse Fond., Paris
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notes

The authenticity of this work has been confirmed by Mary Lisa Palmer at the Association Alberto et Annette Giacometti. The authenticity of this work has been confirmed by the Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti.

medium

Bronze

creator

Alberto Giacometti

dimensions

Height: 39cm., 15 3/8 in.

exhibition

Dortmund, Museum am Ostwall, Französische Plastik des 20 Jahrhunderts, 1959, no. 60

literature

Palma Bucarelli, Giacometti, Rome, 1962, no. 59, illustration of another cast (as dating from 1954)

provenance

Galerie Maeght, Paris (acquired from the artist in 1959) Galerie Claude Bernard, Paris Saidenberg Gallery, New York Private Collection, Europe (sale: Sotheby's, London, 3rd December 1991, lot 50) Private Collection (purchased at the above sale) Acquired from the above by the present owner

signedDate

Inscribed Alberto Giacometti, numbered 2/6 and stamped with the foundry mark Susse Fond., Paris

time_period

Executed in 1958 and cast in bronze in an edition of six. This work was cast in 1958.

creator_nationality_dates

1901 - 1966


*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.


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