Sotheby’s dropped a big bomb last night with its announcement of a major Giacometti work, “Chariot,” that it hopes can achieve a price as remarkable—or stronger—as the jaw-dropping $104m sale of the sculptor’s Walking Man to Lily Safra in 2010. Like Safra’s statue, the other works in this series are in major museums, leaving this and another as any top-flight collector’s last chance:
Giacometti’s “Chariot,” an elongated female figure atop a chariot, its wheels suspended on wooden blocks — trapped and unable to move — has been thought by philosophers to be the artist’s symbol of isolation and anxiety in postwar Europe. It was also inspired by ancient Egyptian sculptures that Giacometti described in letters he wrote around 1920 as having “a greatness, a rhythm of line and form, a perfect technique never equaled.” What makes this “Chariot” particularly rare is that he meticulously painted it, accenting the goddess’s black eyes and hair and scarlet lips. “Chariot” was cast in an edition of six; four are in museums.
Sotheby’s won’t say who is selling this “Chariot,” but dealers who specialize in Giacometti’s work believe it belongs to Alexander Goulandris, a member of the Greek shipping family.
A 36-Hour Jeff Koons Marathon at the Whitney (NYTimes.com)