Alberto Giacometti Pointing Man (L’homme au doigt). Estimated at $130 million. Courtesy of Christie’s Images Ltd. 2015 © 2015 Alberto Giacometti Estate Licensed by VAGA and ARS, New York
NEW YORK– Christie’s Auction House continues to generate excitement in the global art market. Weeks after announcing that it will also be selling Pablo Picasso’s 1955 masterpiece Les Femmes d’ Alger (Version O), the auction house has announced that it will be auctioning a bronze sculpture by Alberto Giacometti. Titled Pointing Man (L’homme au doigt), the bronze sculpture is estimated at $130 million, and Christie’s hopes it will surpass that estimate.
The Pointing Man (L’homme au doigt), stands at 5 feet 10 inches, and it is one of the most iconic and provocative sculptures by Giacometti. Standing with superb self- assurance, the elongated bronze sculpture points with a rigid stick-thin arm in a way to draw attention to something in the distance. The Pointing Man (L’homme au doigt), is a result of one of Giacometti’s eureka moments. Giacometti conceived the sculpture in 1947 after the end of the Second World War. Four months before his first solo exhibition in nearly 15 years was due to open at Pierre Matisse’s Gallery in New York, Giacometti, faced with a deadline, went into his studio and created this masterpiece. When his solo exhibition opened, the Giacometti bronze sculpture known as Pointing Man (L’homme au doigt) stole the show.
Christie’s Pointing Man (L’homme au doigt) is from an edition of six casts, plus an artist’s proof. A version of the piece is in the Museum of Modern Art collection, while another can be found at the Tate Gallery in London. The Baltimore Museum of Art also has a version that was donated to the museum by art patrons Saidie May and Blanchette Rockefeller soon after they were created. The remaining are in foundation collections and private hands.
Christie’s prides this Pointing Man (L’homme au doigt) on its rarity.’ It was hand painted by the artist himself’, notes Jussi Pylkkanen, Global President Christie’s. According to Christie’s, ” this is believed to be the only bronze version of the Pointing Man that Giacometti painted by hand in order to heighten its impressive impact.”
Unlike other sculptures by Giacometti that are devoid of details, Pointing Man (L’homme au doigt) has a lot of details. From the hand painted flesh tones on the elongated body to black pigment on the hair and one eye lend, the sculpture carries an eerie feeling that bears the memory of the period it was created.
This Christie’s Giacometti also has amazing provenance. It was first owned by the celebrated collectors Dr. Fred and Florence Olsen who bought it directly from the Pierre Matisse Gallery in 1953. The Olsen, who are ardent collectors, held the sculpture in their collection until 1970. Sheldon Solow purchased the sculpture in 1970 from the Sidney Janis Gallery. He has kept it in his collection for 45 years. Solow is a passionate collector with an extensive collection modern art, including artworks Alberto Giacometti, Henry Moore, and Joan Miro among many others.
This is the first time Christie’s Pointing Man (L’homme au doigt) will be offered at auction. The bronze sculpture will be part of Christie’s Looking Forward to the Past, an auction that already has amazing masterpieces by famous artists of the 20th century.
Pointing Man(L’homme au doigt) Giacometti joins Pablo Picasso’s 1955 painting Les Femmes d’ Alger, which is expected to bring more than $140 million in an auction that is already filled with master pieces. The auction which has been titled Looking Forward to the Past opens on May 11, 2015, at Christie’s Rockefeller Center in New York.
More than 30 artworks will feature in Looking Forward to the Past, an auction which has been specially put together by Christie’s as a way of expanding its collectors base and attracting those interested in art from a variety of periods.
Looking Forward to the Past is an addition to Christie’s auction of Impressionist, Modern and contemporary works spanning 100 years. Based on market history, it is expected that the Giacometti will be one of the stars of the auction. Giacometti who did in 1966 is the only sculptor whose work has exceeded $100 million mark at auction. In the last 5 years, Giacometti bronzes have totaled more than $50 million at auctions. Giacometti Walking Man I, a gangling bronze sculpture sold for 104.3 million at Sotheby’s in 2010.
Evidently, the international demand for works by Giacometti is why Christie’s did not offer any guaranteed minimum price to the seller. Unlike Pablo Picasso’s 1955 masterpiece Les Femmes d’ Alger (Version O), there is so much confidence riding on this Giacometti.
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