The prestigious Biennale des Antiquaires has been gathering collectors, exhibitors and art dealers under the iconic art nouveau roof of Paris’s Grand Palais since 1956. At this year’s September event, art aficionados will have the chance to bid at an auction, hosted by Artcurial, of a private collection of work by sculptor Diego Giacometti (first picture).
The sale, “A 20 Year Friendship with Diego Giacometti: Brollo Collection,” takes place at 8pm on September 14 and includes an exhibition – open to the public from September 7 – that offers a panoramic vision of Giacometti’s work.
On display are 16 pieces of bronze furniture, including three by Diego’s brother Alberto Giacometti, as well as preparatory plaster casts and prototype elements such as a rare ceiling light. A never-before-seen photographic report made by Frédéric Brollo (a Paris-based photographer, son of collectors Éliane and Daniel Brollo), records Giacometti at work in his Paris workshop in the 14th arrondissement in the early 1980s. Brollo remembers Giacometti’s amazing hands, “like those of a blacksmith. He had very precise gestures even at the end of his life when his eyesight was failing,” he says.
Diego met Éliane and Daniel in the 1960s, soon after Alberto’s death, and they formed a deep friendship sparked by their shared Italian origins. At the time he was struggling to sell his works as his “wrought-iron style” wasn’t considered chic.
Over the years, beginning in 1968 when the Brollos bought their first work, a lamp called Etoile, they acquired a selection of bronze furniture pieces from Diego. “All the works were acquired directly from the artist himself by the Brollos but the artist also gifted them some pieces,” says Bruno Jaubert, director of the impressionist and modern-art department at Artcurial.
Diego was passionate about nature, and animals often made an appearance in his furniture, from familiar ones like the little mice climbing up the table legs of two hairdresser stools (€200,000-€300,000, second and third pictures) to wild ones, like the lion heads on a pair of armchairs (€150,000-€200,000, fourth picture).
The diverse collection includes lights, chairs, armchairs, tables, coffee tables and decorative objects. Highlights include a 1955 glass-topped coffee table (€80,000-€120,000, fifth picture) with tiny harpies climibing up the legs(€80,000-€120,000), a pair of chandeliers featuring a horse’s head (€80,000-€120,000) and a maître d’hôtel cat from 1961 in a brown-red patina (€50,000-€70,000).
Also included are a series of plaster casts given by the artist to Frédéric Brollo. There are parts of a crossbeam coffee table (€6,000-€8,000) and finished models such as a chandelier (€40,000-€60,000) with four branches and cone lighting.