Alberto Giacometti – Artist of the year [03.02.2015 11:02]  (Source:

Giacometti learnt one thing from Rodin: men walking in uncertain directions express a disconcerting strength and fragility at the same time. The psychological power of his œuvre makes it one of the world’s most sought-after, and in 2014 Alberto Giacometti generated the best art auction result of the year at $90 million.

Alberto GIACOMETTI was just 20 when his left Switzerland for Paris. The year was 1922, an artistically dizzying period, in the midst of the nascent Surrealist revolution spearheaded by André Breton. He studied under Antoine Bourdelle, discovered the Cubists, and experimented a lot. However, in 1926, Giacometti’s discovery of archaic and traditional arts – Egyptian, Sumerian, Cycladic, African and Australasian – seems to have radically altered his artistic vision. His most emblematic work from this period is Femme-cuillère (1926-1927) measuring 143 cm, a sort of totemic statue that looks distinctly African, especially with its full / hollow spoon shape resembling an anthropomorphic ladle from the Dan culture. Only one version of this bronze statue has ever been sold publicly. It fetched the equivalent of $1.49 million in 1990 at Sotheby’s in New York. Today it would easily fetch ten times that amount. Although his works from this period are extremely rare nowadays, all major Western prestige auctioneers sales try to include his later works in their sales, particularly his elongated and knobby silhouettes known throughout the world.

Giacometti already figured among the world’s top 10 most expensive artists in 2002 (Artprice Top 10). His annual auction turnover that year was up 350% versus 2001, primarily due to a major Christie’s sale of the artist’s estate (35 bronzes, 28 September 2002). The best result of that sale was $1.5 million for La cage, première version (édition 3/8) that fetched twice its high estimate. Four years later, La Cage sold for $2.2 million at Sotheby's (edition 4/8, London, 19 June 2006). However, it was still early days. In 2010, Giacometti’s works started to sell at the same price level as Picasso’s, and his L'Homme qui marche I, fetched the equivalent of $92.5 million at Sotheby's in London on 3 February 2010. Today, there are no signs whatsoever of deflation in the value of this major artist. In fact, 2014 was an excellent year with no less than 18 results above the million dollar line, including the $90 million generated by his Le Chariot, one of the most important works of the 20th century, sold by Sotheby's in New York on 4 November 2014.

His tiny works in bronze also shot up in value. During the war years, the artist substantially reduced his working scales, to the point that some of his works fit in a matchbox. Bronzes measuring less than 10 cm, that used to sell for around $5,000 in the 1990s, are now worth at least 10 times more.

Fortunately for the less wealthy, Alberto Giacometti's market includes a large quantity of prints. Giacometti was always in favour of the mass distribution of his works, especially as his prices reached a relatively high level while he was alive (in the 60s). Prints represent more than half of the transactions on his market, and occasionally numbered lithographs can still be acquired for less than $1,000 at auctions.

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