Who was Alberto Giacometti?
Alberto Giacometti was a popular Swiss artist and surrealist sculptor. He was son of a non-impressionist painter - it is no wonder Giacometti came up with many groundbreaking concepts in arts and sculpture. He experimented with cubism and surrealism as a student of Antoine Bourdelle. His name was associated with the Existentialist movement. His creation of Slaughtered Woman is considered as a violent surrealist work. Through “The Palace at 4 a. m”, he created an open cage like structure. His art is renowned for comprising mainly of human forms that are stretched out with elongated limps. His creation of haunting and anguished images serves as ideal expressions of existentialist pessimism. The themes of his later works were of three types - the seated portrait, the walking man and the standing female nude. He enriched the field of modern sculpture with his creation of imagery and his innovative plastic technique. For his outstanding contribution in the field of sculpture, he received the grand prize for sculpture at the Venice Biennale. “Paris sans fin” is a sequence of 150 lithographs in the form of a book, which is his last work. It contains his valuable memories of all the places where he had lived.
Childhood & Early Life
Born in Borgonovo, which is presently a part of the Swiss municipality of Stampa, near the Italian border, Alberto Giacometti was the son of neo-impressionist painter Giovanni Giacometti.
He attended Ecole des Beaux-Arts for art studies. In 1919, he took admission at the Ecole des Arts Industriels in Geneva. After three years, he went to Paris to attend sculpting class of Antoine Bourdelle at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere
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In 1925, he started his first studio with his brother in Paris. His sculpting style was lavish and spacious. During this period of time, he developed an interest towards the surrealist movement.
In 1927, he displayed his first surrealist sculptures at the Salon des Tuileries. At that time, he came in contact with artists like Picasso, Arp, Miro and Ernst. He also met with renowned writers like Prevert, Aragon and Queneau.
From 1935 to 1940, he remained busy on the study of human head for which he used to focus on the sitter’s gaze. For this purpose, he used his sister and the artist Isabel Rawsthorne as his models.
In some of his sculptures, his statues of Isabel are stretched out as her limbs are elongated. Sometimes, he used to create statues as thin as nails.
The figures that he drew during this time were smaller. Sometimes, their size was not bigger than just a few centimeters. Along with his brother, he used to earn by making designs for lamps and furniture for the Parisian interior architect Jean-Michel Frank.
In 1948, the Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York organized his first one-man show. In this exhibition, he presented the skinny figures that he created. The show received huge success.
From 1958 to 1965, he created a series of 150 lithographs titled Paris sans fin. His painting works consisted of a number of portraits of his brother, his wife and friends, some still lives, landscapes and studio pictures.
In 1958, he was entrusted with the responsibility to create a monumental sculpture for the Chase Manhattan Bank building in New York. For this project, he created four figures of standing women and he named this creation “Grande femme debout I through IV”.
In 1959, British arts review “X magazine” published his article “The Dream, the Sphinx, and the Death of T”. The magazine also published some of his drawings. Later, he exhibited his works through a number of exhibitions across Europe. In 1965, he went to the US for an exhibition of his works at the Museum of Modern art in New York.
Personal Life & Legacy
He got married with Annette Arm. Alberto Giacometti passed away in Kantonsspital in Chur, Switzerland. He was suffering from heart disease and chronic bronchitis.
The Alberto Giacometti-Stiftung, founded in Zurich 1965, has a collection of his works. In 2001, his paintings were included in the Painting the Century 101 Portrait Masterpieces 1900-2000 exhibition held at the National Portrait Gallery, London.
The Alberto et Annette Giacometti Foundation was created in 2003, to promote, preserve and protect the works of Alberto Giacometti. It has almost 5,000 of his works.
Giacometti’s outstanding work has been the subject of various exhibitions including the Pushkin Museum, Moscow (2008), Kunsthal Rotterdam (2008) and Fondation Beyeler, Basel (2009).
Along with his image, this famous artist’s sculptor “L'Homme qui marche I” appears on the present 100 Swiss Franc banknote. It was he, who created a tree for the set of “Waiting For Godot”, a play authored by Samuel Beckett.