I remember when I saw my first Giacometti statue. What struck me in seeing the first Giacomettis in the flesh, was the way in which they were simultaneously both visceral and abstract. A Giacometti figure conveys both an intangible sense of our humanness and yet also a brute, sensual imagining of how we exist as humans. The stupendous current exhibition at the Tate Modern in London equally conveys that sense of Giacometti, both as abstract and as visceral. My favourite room is probably Room 2, which shows his early works from the s, and of his transition from naturalistic to more abstract forms. You get the sense here of an artist battling with himself to find a form to express his vision.

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Diego moved to Paris in to help Alberto out and was his model for more than 50 years. In the s, Diego collaborated with others to make furniture and other decorative arts, but was always truly with his brother. Giacometti was a very peculiar character, and in the same way that he stuck to his favorite model till the end of his days, he also stayed in the same tiny, dark and uncomfortable studio at 46 rue Hippolyte-Maindron for his entire life.

The brothers moved to a 4. Diego always slept there, and if Alberto was not there too, he was in a nearby hotel. Even his wife Anette, whom he married decades later, had to make this claustrophobic space a home.

He claimed to never think of the interior or psychology of the people he loved when he portrayed them, and yet he restlessly tried to realize his vision of their faces and silhouettes in sculpture, without, according to him, ever succeeding. During a break in which he seemingly had given up on representational sculpture, Giacometti began to study the latest developments in abstract art and Cubism in Europe, as well as the art of Oceania and primitive influence.

The surrealists felt betrayed by him and set up a meeting which turned out to be more of an interrogation. It was then that Giacometti was expelled from the group and had to break ties with many of his surrealist friends, with the exception of Aragon and Ernst. After falling out with the Surrealists, figurative painters like Balthus or Derain also reached out to him.

Beckett was his companion in his nightly adventures through the Parisian brothels and bars, and in the daytime, Alberto often visited Picasso in his studio. He sculpted men who cross a square without seeing each other; they cross each other irremediably alone, and yet, they are together. He was a chain smoker and coffee made up most of the meals he consumed in his teeny Montparnasse studio.

These bad habits ultimately led him to suffer from stomach problems and later, cancer. Although he battled it and won at first, his exhausting routines and stubborn bad habits led him to succumb in the end. In interviews or photos, a quick, shy grin is all you would see from him. Select currency. My Plans. Open menu Menu. Europe France Paris Art. Alberto Giacometti, the famous Swiss sculptor, is extremely well known in the art world for his eerie, slender, bronze figures, which are immediately recognizable.

He was a student of Antoine Bourdelle. He Was Obsessed With Heads. The Palace at 4 a. He Was Well Surrounded. He Never Smiled. Give us feedback. Read Next.


Ideological Art Criticism: Sartre and Giacometti

The life and art of Alberto Giacometti have received plenty of attention in Giacometti, who died in at the age of 64, has always been an important and influential figure within the history of midth century art — despite the apparent focus on the big splashy canvases coming out of New York at the time by the likes of Jackson Pollock. While art critics were declaring American painting as the zenith of modern art, Europe was also producing some amazing eccentric and eclectic work — particularly sculpture. Giacometti, who was from Switzerland, is often depicted as a mercurial soul — socially and emotionally awkward, a man who endears and enrages in equal measure. He would often destroy more than he sent out of the studio. This is the Giacometti we know. And it now seems impossible to find any other version.


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Frail yet erect, a man gestures with his left arm and points with his right. We have no idea what he points to, or why. Anonymous and alone, he is also almost a skeleton. For the Existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, in fact, Giacometti's sculpture was "always halfway between nothingness and being. Such sculptures were full of meaning to Sartre, who said of them, "At first glance we seem to be up against the fleshless martyrs of Buchenwald. But a moment later we have a quite different conception: these fine and slender natures rise up to heaven.


On the edge of madness: the terrors and genius of Alberto Giacometti

In that drastic youthfulness of nature and of men, neither the beautiful nor the ugly yet existed, neither taste nor people possessing it; and there was no criticism: all this was still in the future. For the first time, the idea came to one man to sculpt another in a block of stone. There was the model: man. Not dictator, general, or athlete, he did not yet own those ornaments and decorations which would attract the sculptors of the future. There was only a long indistinct silhouette, moving against the horizon. But one could already see that the movements did not resemble those of things: they emanated from the figure like veritable beginnings, they outlined an airy future; to understand these motions, it was necessary to start from their goals — this berry to be picked, that thorn to be removed — and not from their causes.

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