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Nu debout
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Nu debout
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Nu debout

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About the item

Nu debout, painted in 1958, is a haunting depiction of the human body executed by Giacometti in Paris. Influenced by the post-war Existentialist movement and exemplifying the artist’s mature style; the figure appears like an apparition in the darkness - a slender outline emerging from a haze of grey and white paint. The model for this picture was probably his wife Annette posing in his studio with only the faintest suggestion of furniture to hint at the setting of the composition. Giacometti has almost entirely de-contextualised these elements in order to create this provocative, ethereal image. Executed in Giacometti’s wonderfully nuanced grisaille palette, this work belongs to a group of pictures painted in 1958, including Annette assise (fig. 1), which is now in The Detroit Institute of Arts and Nu debout (fig. 2) in the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein Westfalen, which Valerie Fletcher stated: ‘were painted with gestural strokes and were obviously overpainted several times. […] Annette’s body has been defined naturalistically, then obliterated with broad gray strokes and  redefined with thin black and white lines (V. Fletcher, op. cit.(exhibition catalogue), 1988, p. 204). Valerie Fletcher has commented on the use of the framing device seen in this work and in many of Giacometti's paintings of this period (fig. 1): 'Giacometti's fascination with distorted space partially accounts for the frames he painted or drew around nearly all his images. He had begun this practice as early as 1917-18, but after 1946 it became almost standard. Recalling the Renaissance definition of a painting as a window on the world, this framing device opens up and encloses an imaginary three-dimensional reality. By isolating the figure in a remote and uncertain environment, Giacometti marks off the figure's space as distinct from our reality. When asked why he used these framing outlines, he replied: "Because I do not determine the true space of the figure until after it is finished. And with the vague intention of reducing the canvas, I try to fictionalize my painting... And also because my figures need a sort of no man's land"' (V. Fletcher in ibid., pp. 47-48).\nThe execution of the figures in Giacometti’s works, whether conceived in paint or plaster, shared his idiosyncratic aesthetic - even to the extent that the process of addition and reduction was common to both media. Giacometti’s paintings often appear to be a visual reflection of his sculptural processes, with his three-dimensional works recast in paint, or vice versa. The present work and the Düsseldorf painting bear traces of the arching forms of the Femmes de Venise, whilst clearly prefiguring the more rounded Grande femmes of the early 1960s (fig. 3). Discussing the fundamental linearity of Giacometti’s work during the 1950s and 1960s Yves Bonnefoy writes: ‘What can be observed is that Giacometti’s draughtsmanship, whether on paper or canvas or in the plaster he moulded, tended increasingly to consist of a moving stroke, a line. […] The line tends to be everywhere at once, such is its tendency to rush away from the focus of Giacometti’s attention, but since it shows thereby that it will return all the more readily, the impression made by the drawing is increasingly the suggestion of a unity, asserted amid a multiplicity surrounding it on all sides on the sheet of paper, the canvas, or in the lump of clay or plaster’ (Y. Bonnefoy, Alberto Giacometti. A Biography of his Work, Paris, 1991, pp. 381-2).\nThe present work recognisably bears the features of the artist’s wife Annette, with whom the artist had a complex relationship. ‘I admire his very young wife for accepting this life’, Simone de Beauvoir wrote of Giacometti's living arrangement to her lover, Nelson Algren. ‘Having spent the day as his secretary, [Annette] goes back to their desperate lodgings, she does not have a winter coat and she wears worn-out shoes... He is very attached to her but since he is not the tender sort she has some hard times’ (quoted in Michael Peppiatt, Alberto Giacometti in Postwar Paris, New Haven & London, 2001, p. 10). And as Michael Peppiatt has noted ‘it should have been clear from the start […] although he was deeply fond of his girlish new companion, Giacometti was in no way prepared to change his style of life to satisfy the needs of a wife’ (M. Peppiatt, ibid., p. 9). It would remain an unconventional marriage, featuring various interlopers and always in the shadow of Giacometti's work, yet Annette faithfully came to the studio every day until his death in 1966, a constant source of inspiration and enigmatic presence in his life.\nSigned Alberto Giacometti and dated 1958 (Iower right)
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medium

Oil on canvas

creator

Alberto Giacometti

condition

The canvas is unlined. There is no evidence of retouching under ultra-violet light. This work is in very good original condition. Colours: Overall fairly accurate in the printed catalogue illustration, although slightly less red in the original. "In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."

dimensions

154.5 by 69.5cm.

exhibition

New York, Pierre Matisse Gallery, Giacometti: Sculptures, Paintings, Drawings from 1956 to 1958, 1958 New York, Sidney Janis Gallery, Giacometti & Dubuffet, 1968, no. 25, illustrated in the catalogue New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Alberto Giacometti: A Retrospective Exhibition, 1974, no. 135, illustrated in the catalogue Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Seven Decades of Twentieth Century Art, 1980, illustrated in colour in the catalogue Framingham, Massachusetts, Danforth Museum of Art, Henri Michaux/ Alberto Giacometti, 1986, illustrated on the cover of the catalogue (with incorrect measurements) Berlin, Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen Preussischer Kulturbesitz & Stuttgart, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Alberto Giacometti, 1987-88, no. 198, illustrated in colour in the catalogue Washington, D.C., The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Alberto Giacometti 1901-1966, 1988, no. 85, illustrated in colour in the catalogue Saint-Paul-de-Vence, Fondation Maeght, L'œuvre ultimé de Cézanne à Dubuffet, 1989, no. 99, illustrated in colour in the catalogue Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Alberto Giacometti: dibujo, escultura, pintura, 1990-91, no. 307, illustrated in colour in the catalogue Paris, Musee d’art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Alberto Giacometti: sculptures, peintures, dessins, 1991-92, no. 277, illustrated in colour in the catalogue London, Tate Gallery, Paris Post War: Art and Existentialism 1945-55, 1993, no. 64, illustrated in colour in the catalogue Vevey, Arts et Lettres, Yves Bonnefoy. La poésie et les arts plastiques, 1996-97, no. 84, illustrated in colour in the catalogue Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Miradas sin tiempo: Dibujos, Pinturas y Esculturas de la Colección Jan y Marie Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 2000, no. 209, illustrated in colour in the catalogue Institut Valencia d'Art Modern, Centre Julio González, Alberto Giacometti: EI diálogo con la historia del arte, 2000-01, illustrated in colour in the catalogue Vienna, Albertina Museum, Goya bis Picasso: Meisterwerke der Sammlung Jan Krugier und Marie Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 2005, no. 170, illustrated in colour in the catalogue Munich, Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Das ewige Auge: Von Rembrandt bis Picasso, Meisterwerke aus der Sammlung Jan Krugier und Marie Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 2007, no. 222, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

literature

Reinhold Hohl (ed.), Giacometti: A Biography in Pictures, New York, 1998, illustrated in a photograph of the 1958 exhibition at the Pierre Matisse Gallery p. 158 Isabel and Other Intimate Strangers: Portraits by Alberto Giacometti and Francis Bacon (exhibition catalogue), Gagosian Gallery, New York, 2008, illustrated in a photograph p. 236

provenance

Pierre Matisse Gallery. New York (acquired from the artist) Private Collection, U.S.A. Sidney Janis, New York (acquired by 1968) Acquired from the above in June 1986

signedDate

Signed Alberto Giacometti and dated 1958 (Iower right)

time_period

Painted in 1958.

consignmentDesignation

Property from the Estate of Jan Krugier

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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