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Tête de femme (Annette)
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About the item

[Annette] 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. Jean Starobinski\n\nPortrait de femme (Annette) of 1959 is a stunning composition emblematic of the haunting portraits that Giacometti executed in post-war Paris. Like an apparition, the outline of a dark figure emerges through a haze of grey paint. Setting his subject within an empty painted frame, Giacometti has entirely de-contextualised the background in order to focus on the sitter, resulting in a provocative, almost ghostly image. The picture captures a particular sentiment that the artist once expressed in a Surrealist prose poem: The human face is as strange to me as a countenance, which, the more one looks at it, the more it closes itself off and escapes by the steps of unknown stairways (quoted in Alberto Giacometti (exhibition catalogue), Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. & San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco, 1988-89, p. 37).\nThe subject of the present oil is Annette, a young woman whom Giacometti met in Geneva shortly after moving to Switzerland in 1942. Four years later, following the end of the war, Annette moved to Paris with Giacometti. She would soon become his wife and, besides his brother Diego, his principal model for the rest of the artists life. While several strong women provided inspiration for Giacometti, it was Annette who had the most profound and long-lasting effect on his uvre. The intense rendering of the sitter in the present work calls to mind the words 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).\nThis painting was executed during the artist's mature period, when his work was influenced by interactions with the prominent intellectuals of post-war Paris. Most notable among them was the Existentialist writer Jean-Paul Sartre, whom Giacometti first met in 1939, and who subsequently wrote about Giacomettis art. Along with Samuel Beckett and Albert Camus, Giacometti incorporated existentialist concerns into his work. Valerie Fletcher described the extent to which these philosophical underpinnings transformed Giacomettis creative vision: Giacometti did not evolve his postwar figurative art with the deliberate intention of creating an Existentialist art; his motivations were personal, instinctive, and aesthetic. Nonetheless Existentialist interpretations of Giacomettis art, although somewhat facile, are substantiated by the artworks themselves []. A number of sculptures and paintings depict figures whose frail proportions and solitary stance within a large, often desolate space connote the essential isolation of the individual. In addition to such iconographic connections with Existentialism, Giacomettis art involved a profound philosophical investigation of the nature of the self. For Sartre and Giacometti, being is neither defined nor fully revealed by its apparent manifestations, it transcends description (V. Fletcher in Alberto Giacometti (exhibition catalogue), op. cit., 1988-89, p. 35).\nGiacomettis paintings and sculptures were an important influence on a number of American artists, particularly Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman. Rothko would have seen the exhibition Giacometti and Dubuffet held at the Sidney Janis Gallery in New York in 1968, and Giacomettis ideas of the void, of the distance between the image and the spectator and the dichotomy between presence and nothingness certainly had a strong resonance with his own philosophical and artistic position. Jeffrey Weiss wrote: In speaking of Giacomettis paintings, Sartre conceives pictorial space as a means with which to address the very nature of being, allowing that the canvas can be interpreted as portraying both fullness and void. Initiated at roughly the same moment that Giacometti began to produce the paintings and sculpture to which Sartre refers, Rothkos mature painting is related to this idiom, which was otherwise defined in terms of representation. In this regard it should come as no surprise that Rothkos work reveals rather explicit evidence of an interest in Giacometti []. In addition to similarities of palette and format [], Rothko and Giacometti also share the pictorial element of the internal margin or frame, which is often uneven and brushed over. [] For both artists the device was both an enclosure and a threshold, serving spatially to fix the image and distance it from the viewer (J. Weiss in Mark Rothko (exhibition catalogue), National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1998-99, pp. 325-328).\n\nThe authenticity of this work has been confirmed by the Comité Giacometti and it is recorded in the Alberto Giacometti database under number AGD3988.\nSigned Alberto Giacometti and dated 1959 (lower right)
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notes

Please note that as of 25th February 2019, Sotheby's Buyer's Premium payable on each lot is as follows: - 25% of the hammer price up to and including £300,000, - 20% on the portion of the hammer price in excess of £300,000 up to and including £3,000,000, and - 13.9% on the portion of the hammer price in excess of £3,000,000. These rates are exclusive of any applicable VAT and Artist's Resale Right royalty.

medium

Oil on canvas

creator

Giacometti, Alberto

dimensions

73 by 60cm.

exhibition

Turin, Galleria d'Arte Galatea, Selezione 4, 1962, no. 63, illustrated in the catalogue Zurich, Kunsthaus, Alberto Giacometti, 1962-63, no. 147 Florence, Palazzo Strozzi, Mostra mercato nazionale d'arte contemporanea 2, 1964, no. 2, illustrated in the catalogue

literature

Palma Bucarelli, Giacometti, Rome, 1962, no. 8, illustrated in colour p. 83 (titled Portrait de femme) Il collezionista d'arte moderna 1963, Turin, 1963, illustrated in colour p. 105 (titled Busto di donna and as dating from 1954)

provenance

Galerie Maeght, Paris Galleria d'Arte Galatea, Turin (acquired by 1962) Acquired from the above by the family of the present owner by 1971

signedDate

Signed Alberto Giacometti and dated 1959 (lower right)

time_period

Painted in 1959.

time_range_end

1959

artist_range_end

1966

time_range_start

1959

artist_range_start

1901

consignmentDesignation

Property from a Private European Collection

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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