Saturday, September 18, 2010

Alfred Stieglitz Photos at Seaport Museum, New York - report & video

Exhibition now showing:

Alfred Stieglitz's Photographs, Seaport Museum, New York - from September 14, 2010 to January 10, 2011.

Left Image: Alfred Stieglitz in 1902. Photo by Gertrude Kasebier.

"New York Museum Shows Steiglitz Photographs"

(reprinted article by Peter Fedynsky | New York City │ 17 September 2010, from VOA News)

Alfred Stieglitz is considered a central figure in the history of photography. He lived most of his life in New York and in the early years of the 20th century documented the city's transformation into a grand metropolis. But Stieglitz's New York also conveys a sense of loneliness at odds with the city's image of hustle and bustle.

The exhibit at New York's Seaport Museum brings together 39 Stieglitz photographs for the first time since he displayed them nearly 80 years ago.

Stieglitz is considered a giant in photography. He pushed the technical limits of the young medium during the early decades of the 20th century. Curator Bonnie Yochelson says Stieglitz worked when the camera was still a primitive instrument. "It was his personal goal to do things that nobody else tried to do, like photographing at night, photographing in stormy conditions, or in rainy conditions, or at dawn or at dusk under very difficult lighting conditions," she said.

Stieglitz was born in 1864. He played a pivotal role in turning the medium into an art form and in promoting the work of other photographers and painters of that period. Yochelson says Stieglitz's own work expressed profound loneliness. "He was a man of deep romantic emotions, so his New York -- especially in his early pictures, well in all of his pictures -- don't really capitalize on the bustle and hustle and energy of New York, as much as New York as a place that expresses his feeling of loneliness," she said.

Image: Alfred Stieglitz's photograph titled "The Terminal" taken in 1893.

One of his most famous images, taken in 1893, captures the loneliness -- of a coachman in a snowstorm. Stieglitz said he waited - alone - for three hours to capture it. "One of the secrets to that picture is that it's cropped. It was actually a horizontal picture and there were people on either side of the street and he cropped it into a vertical that eliminated those people," said Yochelson.

Stieglitz also documented New York as skyscrapers first rose in its midst, never venturing far from his Manhattan apartment and sometimes shooting his photographs through his apartment window.

Bonnie Yochulson says New York was a pioneer among modern cities. She says people everywhere can recognize the spirit of commerce and progress captured by Alfred Stieglitz. The exhibit runs through mid January, 2011.

Source: VOA News

See the following Stieglitz photographs:

Alfred Stieglitz's photograph titled 'Winter on Fifth Avenue' dated 1892.

'Old and New New York' dated 1910 by Alfred Stieglitz.

'Going to the Start' dated 1904 by Alfred Stieglitz.

'A Snapshot of Paris' dated 1911 by Alfred Stieglitz.

Photograph of 'Georgia O'Keefe', 1918, by Alfred Stieglitz.

Photo of 'Ellen Koeniger, Lake George, 1916' by Alfred Stieglitz.

'Venetian Canal (also known as 'A Bit of Venice'), 1897, by Alfred Stieglitz.

'Katherine',1905, by Alfred Stieglitz.

Alfred Stieglitz's photograph titled 'The Hand of Man' dated 1902.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Van Gogh's "Poppy Flowers" Stolen From Cairo Museum

Left Image: Painter Vincent van Gogh, Self-portrait with Felt Hat, Winter 1887-1888, oil on canvas, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.

The Egyptian authorities are still searching for the US $50 to $55 million floral still-life painting by Van Gogh that has gone missing since Saturday, August 21, from the Mahmoud Khalil Museum in Cairo, Egypt. This is the second time that this painting has been stolen.

Egypt's culture minister Farouq Hosni said the $50 to $55 million painting by Dutch post-Impressionist artist Vincent van Gogh identified as "Poppy Flowers" or "Vase with Flowers" was cut from its frame and smuggled out after the museum opened Saturday morning, August 21. He had said that the museum was visited by only 10 people that day and that two Italians have been arrested at Cairo airport with the painting; however, Hosni later backtracked and said he had been given incorrect information about the painting's recovery. It has since been reported that the arrested Italian couple have been released.

ANSA news agency had said the two Italians were with a group of Spanish and Russian tourists when they had visited the museum.

Associated Press, citing Egypt's top prosecutor, reported that none of the alarms were working and only seven out of 43 surveillance cameras were functional at the time the Van Gogh painting was stolen. Prosecutor-general Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud told Egypt's state news agency Sunday that the thieves used a box cutter to cut the painting from the frame. He blamed the art heist on the lax security at the museum. He said the museum guards' daily rounds at closing time were also inadequate and did not meet the necessary security requirements to protect renowned works of art.

Mr. Mahmoud also said that 15 Egyptian officials, including the director of the Mahmoud Khalil Museum, Reem Bahir, and the head of the fine arts department at the Ministry of Culture, Mohsen Shaalan, have been barred from leaving the country until a full investigation into the art theft has been completed.

Officials have stepped up security at Egypt's borders to try to keep the artwork from leaving the country.

Egyptian Culture Minister Farouq Hosni said no one would be able to easily sell or conceal the painting because of its size, 63 by 57 centimeters.

This is the second time this painting has gone missing. It was first stolen in 1978 and was recovered two years later at an undisclosed location in Kuwait. The circumstances surrounding this first theft remain unclear, as officials have never released the full details.

Painted around 1887, the missing "Poppy Flowers" work measures 63 cm by 57 cm (25.2 in by 22.8 in) and is a still-life of a vase with yellow flowers and red poppies. It is believed that Van Gogh painted this work three years before his death from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

See following video report for more details and a photo of the missing painting.

Watch video: "Egypt searches for $50m painting" - Ayman Mohyeldin from Al Jazeera English News reporting from Cairo, 22 August 2010.

Friday, April 30, 2010

See Rare Art by Renowned American Artist Georgia O'Keeffe at The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C.

New exhibit highlights rarely seen abstractions by Georgia O'Keeffe: February 6 - May 9, 2010

Thought I'd share this good news article and video with you from VOA News.

Be sure to watch the video ... plenty of good images of O'Keefe's abstractions ... click on the <> symbol to copy the video onto your clipboard or to paste the HTML code to your site or to share. Enjoy!

Source: VOA News (30 April 2010, Julie Taboh | Washington, DC) - "Rare Art by Renowned American Artist Goes on Display"

Georgia O'Keeffe
is one of the most distinguished American artists of the 20th century. She is best known for her vibrant paintings of flowers, leaves, landscapes and other images in nature.

Now, a new exhibit at The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., features more than 100 paintings, drawings and watercolors by O'Keeffe and 12 photographic portraits of her taken by her late husband, famed photographer Alfred Stieglitz.

But the highlight of the collection - which includes items dating from 1915 to the late 1970s - includes a rare selection of O'Keeffe's less familiar abstract art.

Georgia O'Keeffe as abstract artist

Georgia O'Keeffe is best known for her sensuous paintings of flowers and desert landscapes of the American southwest. But many people may not know that she was also a gifted abstract artist.

The new exhibit features abstractions that O'Keeffe herself didn't exhibit in her own lifetime, says Elsa Smithgall, associate curator at The Phillips Collection.

According to Smithgall, O'Keeffe broke into abstraction with a set of charcoal drawings that she created in 1915.

"They are exquisite gestural drawings, very organic in form, and no recognizable reference to a known subject," she says.

Water colors and oils

By the 1920s, O'Keeffe had moved on from pure abstract drawings to water colors and oil paintings of subjects that seem more familiar.

But according to Smithgall, O'Keeffe continued to use abstraction as the foundation in all her artwork.

"You're going to find in her work this constant back and forth between very purely abstract form and perhaps a flower or a leaf or a landscape," she says.

Sexual overtones

It was also during this period when critics described O'Keeffe's oil paintings as being sexually suggestive.

While Smithgall acknowledges that some of O'Keeffe's forms do evoke sexual connotations, she emphasizes that the exhibition "is not about that."

She adds that O'Keeffe herself passionately resisted the notion that her art was sexually suggestive and, in fact, made a concerted effort "to shift her focus in her work towards more recognizable subject matter as a way to try to steer the critics towards another kind of reading of her work."

New Mexico - a new chapter

Beginning in 1929, O'Keeffe started spending time in New Mexico where she felt more at home than she had in New York where her career had taken root. Her experiences in the vast open spaces of the New Mexico desert inspired her to move there permanently in 1949.

According to Smithgall, it was a new chapter in her career:

"She's very much responding to that ocean of space in New Mexico where they have this amazing clarity of light and very wonderful, breathtaking kind of exhilarating sensation that she feels there that is extremely inspiring to her, and it brings up a whole new body of subject matter," she says.

It was during these transformative years when her paintings took on a different feel as well, says Smithgall.

O'Keeffe started depicting flowers "increasingly large in format and increasingly greater in magnification and so you start to see a major change in her scale, in her viewpoint taking these unusual birds and bees-eye perspectives," she says.

According to Smithgall, O'Keeffe created magnified images of her subject matter as a way of "inviting the viewer in." She wasn't copying an object so much as expressing how she felt about painting it, she says.

Coming full circle

By the late '50s and '60s, O'Keeffe's art turned once again to the pure abstractions of her earlier years.

"This is not a work that you probably would see on the wall and say, 'Oh, yes, an O'Keeffe,'" says Smithgall, "so there's that surprising aspect to them."

"What's so exquisite about them is that she has - with very spare compositions - created these exquisite forms that are extremely expressive and that do recall those earliest charcoal drawings in that respect," she says.

From those early charcoal drawings to the huge, bold canvases of her later years, few would argue that the work of Georgia O'Keeffe has had a far-reaching influence on American art and culture, and continues to impress and inspire art lovers throughout the world.

Source: VOA News (30 April 2010, Julie Taboh | Washington, DC) - "Rare Art by Renowned American Artist Goes on Display"

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Woman's Touch: The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA)

The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) in Washington D.C. offers the single most important collection of art by women artists. The NMWA is solely dedicated to celebrating women’s achievements in the visual, performing, and literary arts. NMWA was incorporated in 1981 by Wallace and Wilhelmina Cole Holladay. Since the museum's opening in 1987, NMWA has acquired a collection of more than 3,500 paintings, sculptures, works on paper, and decorative art.

The museum's collection of about 1,000 women artists represent every major artistic period from 16th-century Dutch and Flemish still lifes to 20th-century abstract expressionism to postmodern art.

Left image: Artist: Alice Bailly (1872-1938), "Self-Portrait," 1917, oil on canvas, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.

Right image: Artist: Lilla Cabot Perry (1848-1933), "Lady With a Bowl of Violets," c.1910, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.

The following GREAT MUSEUMS video reflects on a range of topics--how women artists have been overshadowed in art history to feminism and the French Revolution to the memorable feminine artistic expressions of the late 19th century.

The video gives a good sampling of what's inside the National Museum of Women in the Arts. You'll hear from the founder and chair of the Board of the NMWA, Wilhelmina Cole Holladay. Since her discovery that female artists have historically been omitted from art history books, Wilhelmina Cole Holladay has made it her mission to shine the light on and celebrate the accomplishments of women artists from the past to the present. The museum's ongoing programs integrate themes of history and diversity with art being the great common denominator.

Video titled: A Woman's Touch: The National Museum of Women in the Arts from GreatMuseums

Choose the FULL SCREEN VIEW setting (click on "4 arrows" icon) to get the best view of the paintings and sculpture on the video.

The women artists, brief histories, and titled artwork discussed in the video are the listed:

  • Clara Peeters (1594-1657), Flemish painter. "Still Life of Fish and Cat"
  • Lavinia Fontana (1552-1614), Italian painter. "Portrait of a Noblewoman" (c.1580)
  • Sofonisba Anguissola (also spelled Anguisciola) (c. 1535-1625), Italian painter of the Renaissance. "Portrait of a Lady and Her Daughter"
  • Elisabetta Sirani (1638-1665), Italian Baroque painter, whose father was Giovanni Andrea Sirani of the School of Bologna. "Virgin and Child" (1663)
  • Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717), naturalist, scientific illustrator and painter; born in Frankfurt, Germany into the family of notable Swiss engraver Matthäus Merian. Paintings include "Pineapple" and "Spiders, Ants and Hummingbird"
  • Marianne Loir (1715-1769). "Portrait of Madame Geoffrin"
  • Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun (1755-1842), French, recognized as most famous woman painter of 18th Century. Shown artwork include: "Madame Thérèse Vestris" (1803). "Studies from her Sketchbook" (c.1801). "Portrait of Princess Belozersky" (1798). "Portrait of a Young Boy" (1817).
  • Adélaide Labille-Guiard (1749-1803), French portrait painter. "Portrait of the Marquise de Lafayette"
  • Angelica Kauffman (1741-1807), Swiss-Austrian Neoclassical painter. "Cumaean Sibyl" (c. 1763). "Family of the Earl of Gower" (1772).
  • Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938), French painter, born Marie-Clémentine Valadon; first woman painter admitted to Société Nationale des Beaux Arts; mother of painter Maurice Utrillo. "The Abandoned Doll" (1921). "Bouquet of Flowers" (1920).
  • Camille Claudel (1864-1943), French sculptor and graphic artist. "Young Girl With a Sheaf" (c. 1890).
  • Mary Cassatt (1844-1926), American painter and printmaker who lived most of her adult life in France and exhibited with the Impressionists. "The Bath" (1891).
  • Lilla Cabot Perry (1848-1933), American painter who worked in the Impressionistic style. "Lady With a Bowl of Violets" (c. 1910).
  • Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986), major American artist. "Alligator Pears in a Basket" (1921).
  • Joan Mitchell (1925-1992), American abstract expressionist painter. "Salle Neige" (1980).
  • Grace Hartigan (1922-2008), American abstract expressionist painter. "December Second" (1959). "Lady of Milan" (1985).
  • Alice Neel (1900-1984), American artist. "T.B. Harlem" (1940).
  • Audrey Flack (b. 1931), American photo-realist painter, printmaker, sculptor. "Hannah: Who She Is" (1982).
  • Lorrie Goulet, American sculptor.
  • Alice Bailly (1872-1938), Swiss painter, known for her interpretation of Cubism and multimedia "wool" paintings. "Self-Portrait" (1917).
  • Frida Kahlo (1907-1954), Mexican painter; married to Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. "Self-Portrait, Dedicated to Leon Trotsky" (1937).

More information: current exhibits and programs at National Museum of Women in the Arts official site.

Q & A (January 23, 2009) with Wilhelmina Cole Holladay, the author of A Museum of Their Own, National Museum of Women in the Arts, a lively account of how she founded the museum, which opened in 1987 in Washington, D.C. on Smart Woman Online

To see all my video posts about other artists on Art Bytes

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Flowers in Art and Life

It usually happens during conversations about art that someone would ask me who or which artists I like. There is no simple answer because so many names come to mind. Not only have great artists from the past influenced me, but also local artists and artisans inspire me in many ways.

Flowers are in my life. I have a simple flower garden, and sometimes I'm given a special bouquet (or, I treat myself). Many artists paint flowers or show flowers within their paintings . . . some names may surprise you. Remember those colorful crayon "masterpieces" you brought home from grade school? And remember those collage flower projects made with dyed cotton balls, crumpled tissue paper, beads or dried pasta shapes? A gift of fresh flowers convey friendship, love, and happiness. Whenever words fail us, we send flowers during times of sadness and loss. The English critic, artist, and writer John Ruskin (1819-1900) said: "Flowers seem intended for the solace of ordinary humanity."

Li Di literally produced blooms with vivid realism. Li Di was a Chinese imperial court painter during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127–1279) era. He produced two exquisite hibiscus flower paintings (Pair of album leaves) in the year 1197.

"Red Hibiscus," by Chinese artist Li Di. Dated 1197 ( Southern Song Dynasty). Ink and colors on silk, each 25.5 x 25.8 cm. Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo.

"White Hibiscus," by Chinese artist Li Di. Dated 1197 (Southern Song Dynasty). Ink and colors on silk, each 25.5 x 25.8 cm. Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo.

This iris painting is from my favourite artist, Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890). Van Gogh's "Irises" dance, with the blossoms and leaves imbued with energy and life. It shows his tremendous love for nature's pure beauty. He sets up a visual vibration by using complementary colors with the cool blues/purples against the warm orange/yellows. Amongst all these blossoms is a single white iris, standing alone, upright, and steadfast.

"Irises" by Vincent van Gogh, Saint-Rémy, May, 1889, oil on canvas, J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center, Los Angeles, California.

One of the first art books I bought was titled Georgia O'Keeffe: One Hundred Flowers. O'Keeffe's large-scale paintings at close range, as if seen through a magnifying lens, of flower blossoms and natural forms are sensuous and eye-catching. American painter Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986) is best known for her iconic representations of flowers, rocks, shells, landscapes, and animal bones, as well as her abstract work which is as bold and breathtaking as that of her European contemporaries Picasso, Matisse, and Kandinsky. Georgia O'Keeffe is one of America's most important artists.

Enjoy these images of O'Keefe's sensuous flowers. My thanks to bluemoon093 for creating this video tribute Georgia O'Keeffe: Flowers

I have included the Belgian painter and botanist Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759-1840), who excelled with his botanical paintings and illustrations.

"Rosa Gallica Aurelianensis" by Pierre-Joseph Redouté, printed illustration engraving.

French painter Edouard Manet (1832-1883) was known mainly for his strong portraits and some landscapes. Although Manet included flowers as supporting detail in his portraits, there were several paintings in his total oeuvre where flowers are the main subject matter.

"Peonies in Vase Still Life" by Edouard Manet, 1864-65, oil on canvas, Musée d'Orsay.

One of my prized books is The Last Flowers of Manet which illustrate the 16 flower paintings that Manet painted during his last months of life. Manet had been ill for several years, and he had been working on a smaller scale. His last major composition had been "A Bar at the Folies-Bergère," which had been completed in time for the Salon of 1882, a year before his death.[1]

"So these flower paintings belong to a period of decline and, one must imagine, of occasional despair. But even at his most bitter moments Manet's spirits would revive at the sight of flowers, "I would like to paint them all," he would say."[2]

"White Lilacs in Glass Vase" (Lilas blancs dans un vase de verre) by Edouard Manet, 1883, oil on canvas, Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery), Berlin.

The following three examples could be considered portraits, with the painted flowers acting as the counterbalance or counterweight, which play equally important roles in the paintings. One of my favourites is "The Time of the Lilacs" by French-born, British artist Sophie Gengembre Anderson (1823-1903), who specialized in painting children and women, usually in rural settings.

I have fond memories of lilacs. At my childhood home, there grew two huge blue-purple lilac bushes by the front door; and every spring the intoxicating fragrance of those lilac blooms drifted into the house . . .

"The Time of the Lilacs" by Sophie Gengembre Anderson, oil on canvas.

Post-Impressionist painter Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) painted "Large Bouquet of Flowers with Tahitian Children" (Te Tiare Farani). In 1891, Gauguin had moved to Tahiti in the French Polynesia. Gauguin's use of warm vibrant colors energized this painting with the feeling of the exotic tropics. He used bold and flat areas of pure color to construct the forms, with dark contour lines separating the forms. "Cloisonnism" is the post-impressionist term for this style of painting.

"Large Bouquet of Flowers with Tahitian Children" (Te Tiare Farani) by Paul Gauguin, 1891, oil on canvas, Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow.

"Sunflowers on An Armchair" by Paul Gauguin, 1901, oil on canvas. Private Collection, Zurich.

Another wonderful portrait painting full of spring flowers is "The Flower Arrangement" by German painter Otto Scholderer (1834-1902). As well as portraits, Scholderer also painted landscapes and beautiful still life. He often included flowers or fruits with his portraits of women.

"The Flower Arrangement" by Otto Scholderer.

Here's something different . . . Cubist painter Juan Gris (1887-1927) created a painting titled "Roses (Flowers)." Gris was a Spanish painter and sculptor who lived and worked mostly in France. He is credited for creating several of the Cubism movement's most distinctive and well-known works.

"Roses (Flowers)" by Juan Gris dated 1914.

I need to include French artist Henri Matisse (1869-1954), who freely added floral designs to his paintings. Matisse had a life-long fascination with textiles. He was born in Bohain-en-Vermandois, a town in Northern France known for its production of luxury silks and taffetas. His family had been involved with textiles for generations, and Matisse developed an affection for and collected fabrics at an early age. Throughout his life, wherever he travelled, he added to his collection of textiles. Matisse was known to cover his studio in fabric, draping sheets over chairs, hanging material from wire rods attached in the ceiling, setting up patterned backdrops for his models. Matisse used these fabric designs in his paintings, often changed in some way, with either the designed shapes exaggerated or with altered colors.[3] As shown in the following painting "The Dessert Harmony in Red (The Red Room)," Matisse would intentionally confuse the background and foreground patterning.

"The Dessert Harmony in Red (The Red Room)" by Henri Matisse, 1908, oil on canvas, State Heritage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.

Below is Matisse's 1948 painting "The Plum Blossoms" which is part of the last series of oil paintings created by the artist before he died in 1954.

"The Plum Blossom" painting, measuring nearly 3 feet by 4 feet, depicts a woman, her face left blank and featureless, sitting at a table against a heavily saturated rust-red and yellow-ochre background, with a tall vase of blooming plum blossom branches dominating the foreground. It is among seven interiors that Matisse painted in 1947 and 1948 in his studio in Vence, in southern France.[4]

"The Plum Blossoms" by Henri Matisse, 1948, oil on canvas, Museum of Modern Art, New York City.

The allure and quiet language of flowers are universal, appealing to the young and old. Only with calmness and in serenity do we perceive their beauty.

Reference Sources:
[1] Robert Gordon and Andrew Forge, The Last Flowers of Manet, translated by Richard Howard (New York: Abradale Press, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1999), p.5.

[2] Robert Gordon and Andrew Forge, The Last Flowers of Manet, translated by Richard Howard (New York: Abradale Press, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1999), p. 5.

[3] National Post, newspaper article by Julia Dault titled "Matisse's Material World," published August 18, 2005.

[4] The New York Times, newspaper article by Carol Vogel titled "The Modern Acquires a 'Lost' Matisse," published September 8, 2005.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Georgia O'Keeffe: Abstraction exhibition on from 6 Feb - 9 May 2010 at The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC

"When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it's your world for the moment." -- Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986), American painter

One of the first art books I bought was titled "Georgia O'Keeffe: One Hundred Flowers." O'Keeffe's large-scale paintings at close range, as if seen through a magnifying lens, of flower blossoms and natural forms are sensuous and eye-catching. American painter Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986) is best known for her iconic representations of flowers, rocks, shells, landscapes, and animal bones, as well as her abstract work which is as bold and breathtaking as that of her European contemporaries Picasso, Matisse, and Kandinsky. Georgia O'Keeffe is one of America's most important artists.

"Georgia O'Keeffe: Abstraction" exhibition February 6 to May 9, 2010 at
The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C.

A short Georgia O'Keeffe biography at

See the following video for examples of her work and highlights of the O'Keeffe exhibition. If you're in the Washington D.C. area, the O'Keeffe exhibit shows this American legend in a whole new light. Included in the exhibition are more than 100 paintings, drawings, and watercolors by O'Keeffe, dating from 1915 to the late 1970s, and 12 photographic portraits of her by her husband, Alfred Stieglitz.

My thanks to bluemoon093 for creating this beautiful video tribute -
Georgia O'Keeffe: Flowers

Friday, February 5, 2010

Alberto Giacometti statue " L'homme qui marche I (Walking Man I)" sets new art auction record

What a way to start 2010! A Giacometti statue, L'homme qui marche I (Walking Man I), set a world record for a work of art at auction ... fetching $104.3 million ($104,327,006 /£65,001,250) after just eight minutes of intense bidding for about ten bidders at Sotheby's in London on Wednesday evening, February 3, 2010. The bidding had opened at 12 million pounds, and the statue was sold to an anonymous bidder by telephone. The life-sized 72- inch (183 cm) bronze sculpture depicts a lone man in mid-stride with his arms hanging at his side.

Video of Giacometti's L'homme qui marche I (Walking Man I) sculpture sold at world record auction price at Sotheby's. An anonymous phone bidder bought the work for £58m. The £65m price tag includes the buyer's premium. - video from mickeydroog

Not only establishing new record prices for a Giacometti work and for any piece of sculpture ever sold at auction, L'homme qui marche I also beat the previous top auction price set by Pablo Picasso’s painting Garçon à la Pipe, which sold for $104.2 million ($104,168,000 / £58,052,830) at Sotheby’s New York in May 2004.

The February 3 sale of L'homme qui marche I (Walking Man I) marked the first time a Giacometti figure of a walking man of this size has come to auction in over 20 years, said Sotheby's.

Sotheby's described the Giacometti L'homme qui marche I (Walking Man I) as executed in 1960 and cast in bronze in a numbered edition of 6 plus 4 artist's proofs. The present work was cast in 1961 and is a life-time cast. Previously, the record for a Giacometti bronze was set at $27.4 million in May 2008 for a life-sized sculpture of a woman entitled "Grande femme debout II (Large Standing Woman II)."

Alberto Giacometti (10 October 1901 – 11 January 1966) was a Swiss sculptor, painter, draughtsman, and printmaker. This sculpture by the 20th century Swiss artist is considered an iconic Giacometti work as well as being one of the most recognizable images of modern art. The life-sized bronze statue was being sold by the German banking firm Commerzbank AG, which acquired it when it took over Dresdner Bank AG and its corporate art collection in 2009. Dresdner acquired the sculpture in 1980.

L'homme qui marche I (Walking Man I) was executed at the high point of Giacometti's mature period. According to Sotheby's catalogue note: "The sculpture originated as part of the public project that Giacometti was commissioned to do for the Chase Manhattan Plaza in New York, which, when completed, was to be the first modernist outdoor project in the city's financial district. While the installation was never completed, L'Homme qui marche I became an iconic work in its own right." [... ] "In preparation for the Chase Manhattan project, Giacometti executed a number of sculptures, among which, according to the sculptor, were at least forty versions of the walking man. However Giacometti destroyed most of them, and only seems to have been satisfied with the two versions that remain today – L'Homme qui marche I and II. "

Here's a video I enjoyed watching, showing examples of Giacometti's unique sculpture, paintings and drawings.
Alberto GIACOMETTI 1901 1966 - video from SAPH075

More from Sotheby's Catalogue Note on L'homme qui marche I (Walking Man I) :

"An undisputed masterpiece of Giacometti's sculpture, L'Homme qui marche I is also one of the most iconic images of Modern art. It represents the pinnacle of Giacometti's experimentation with the human form, combining a monumental, imposing size with a rich rendering of the surface. Capturing a transient moment in the figure's movement, Giacometti created both a humble image of an ordinary man, and a potent symbol of humanity.

The present work is the first of two versions of L'Homme qui marche, executed in 1960, at the highpoint of Giacometti's mature period. By this time, the image of a standing or walking human figure was established as pivotal to the artist's iconography. Between 1947 and 1950 Giacometti made several sculptures on the subject of the walking man, alone or in a small group positioned on a platform suggestive of a city square. Never before, however, had he tackled this image on a monumental scale. Giacometti's lean, wiry figures reached their ultimate form during this period. No longer interested in recreating physical likenesses in his sculptures, the artist began working from memory, seeking to capture his figures beyond the physical reality of the human form. In the years after the Second World War his figures were reduced to their bare essential form, displaying an austerity that embodied the artist's existentialist concerns, and reflecting the lonely and vulnerable human condition. ..."