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. ..."