Alberto Giacometti, Femme debout, (1961). Bronze. 44.5 x 7.8 x 11.1 cm. Courtesy Phillips.
Alberto Giacometti's exquisite Femme debout sculpture was included in the 20th Century & Contemporary Art Sale on 20 October 2020 at Phillips.
Giacometti's incredible ability to work the female form through his obsessive technique of whittling the figure down to a delicate yet domineering presence is conveyed perfectly in this sculpture.
Giacometti had a deep fascination with the human gaze and its ability to discern the life of the individual. 'If I can hold the look in the eyes, everything else follows', Giacometti once said. The artist would expect his sitters—often his wife Annette Arm—to maintain a presence as attentive as the artist himself.
Detailed, smooth and dominating, the head is in stark contrast to the rigid ultra-thin vertical body that falls beneath. The fragile proportions yet soulful presence of the figure reinforces the awe we experience when faced with this masterpiece. Commenting on his innate ability to create such contradiction, Jean-Paul Sartre noted that Giacometti's depictions on humanity were 'always mediating between nothingness and being'.