Alberto Giacometti, L’Homme qui marche I, bronze, estimate: £12-18 million/ $19-29 million/ €14-20 million
On Wednesday, February 3, 2010, Sotheby’s will offer for sale one of the most important sculptures by Alberto Giacometti ever to have come to the auction market: L’Homme qui marche I, a life-size work that ranks among the most arresting and iconic of the artist’s bronzes. Its appearance at auction in February will mark the first time a Giacometti figure of a walking man in this monumental size has come to auction in over 20 years.
January 10th 2010, source: Sotheby's
More than that, this particular piece has the distinction of being a life-time cast. No life-time cast of the subject has ever been seen at auction before. Formerly part of the corporate collection of Dresdner Bank AG (by whom it was acquired circa 1980), the work came into the possession of Commerzbank AG after the latter’s takeover of Dresdner Bank in 2009. Cast in 1961, L’Homme qui marche I is estimated to sell for a sum in excess of £12 million. Proceeds from the sale will be entirely put towards supporting Commerzbank’s foundations as well as selected museums. The work will be one of the centerpieces of Sotheby’s forthcoming Evening sale of Impressionist & Modern Art.
The market for 20th century sculpture and Giacometti has developed considerably over the last few years. Helena Newman, Co-Chairman of Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art Department Worldwide, said: “Following on from the exceptional price achieved with the sale of L’Homme qui chavire which made $19.3 million against an estimate of $8-12 million at Sotheby’s New York in November 2009, we are delighted to have the rare opportunity to offer a monumental and lifetime cast of this iconic work.”
L’Homme qui marche I was executed 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. In the years after the Second World War his figures were reduced to their bare essential form, displaying an austerity that embodies the artist’s existentialist concerns, and reflecting the lonely and vulnerable human condition. L’Homme qui marche I 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 moment in the figure’s movement, Giacometti created both a humble image of an ordinary man, and a potent symbol of humanity.