NEWS///MUST READ: “THE ART MARKET IS ONCE AGAIN SHOOTING UP LIKE A ROCKET”

February 9, 2010  |  art, News

ART MONEY098a
A TOUCH OF FAME WORKS ITS MAGIC IN MARKET

By Souren Melikian | NY TIMES
Published: February 6, 2010

LONDON — The art market is once again shooting up like a rocket. Sotheby’s auction, conducted on Wednesday evening by Henry Wyndham, chairman of Sotheby’s Europe and auctioneer extraordinaire, will be remembered as a major turning point in art market history.

Wednesday was the magic day when the life-size bronze cast of “L’homme qui marche I” (The Striding Man I) by Alberto Giacometti sold for £65 million, or about $102 million, to one of those mystery telephone bidders that now dominate the auction scene.

The triumphant score consecrates the power of myth. Without the weight of cultural history attached to it, Giacometti’s bronze figure could not have soared so high.

For one thing, the cast is far from unique. It is number two in an edition of six cast in 1961, to which four “artist’s proofs” must be added. Then there is the closely related series called “L’homme qui marche II.” Giacometti once said that he had made more than 40 versions of the striding man. All but two were destroyed, which still leaves a number of closely resembling figures, making the price even more astounding.

True, most are out of the market. Casts of “L’homme qui marche I” are prominently displayed in major American and European museums.

The pride taken in them by famous institutions serves as a reminder of the artistic effervescence that surrounded the conception and elaboration of the “Striding Man.” It came about as part of a project commissioned to Giacometti for the Chase Manhattan Plaza in New York. The project was to consist of an array of large standing figures but was never implemented. Of the various bronzes which had been cast by 1960, including two variants of the “Striding Man,” none ever reached its intended destination. Realizing the time that completing such a vast program would take, Giacometti simply gave up. However, the Paris school sculptor was pleased enough with the individual figures to dispatch one cast of “L’homme qui marche I” to the 1962 Venice Biennale. Click HERE to continue reading...

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