For this reason, the portraits by Alberto are immaterial. He draws the faces within a pattern of lines. His feat is that the person remains recognizable. Later, Lucian Freud will manage a similar approach with his impasto layered on canvas throughout interminable sittings. Such portrait painters do not inspect the flesh but the appearance of the model, and through the appearance : the life.
In 1964, the portrait of James Lord is the last major oil painted by Giacometti. Lord was an art historian. He watched his friend and published in 1965 a small book detailing the gestation of that work.
The first few minutes are easy. Alberto wanted to make a sketch and it has some likeness. It is not complex enough and the painter adds some brushstrokes that annihilate the first effect. The result is not good. He must persevere.
This passion occupies 18 sessions, from 12 September to 1 October 1964 during which Lord takes each time the same position. Giacometti is trapped in his own creativity. It is altogether impossible to him to complete the work or to destroy it. The lull suddenly occurs during the 18th meeting. The master observes that the work remains improvable but that its quality has become acceptable.
The portrait of Lord by Giacometti, oil on canvas 116 x 81 cm, is estimated $ 22M for sale by Christie's in New York on November 9, lot 19A. I invite you to watch the very interesting video shared by Christie's, which includes comments attributed to the master in Lord's book and photos of intermediate states of the artwork that provide a remarkable insight into the feverish creativity of the artist.
SOLD for $ 21M including premium