Alberto Giacometti

1901 - 1966 · Switzerland

Artist biography

Alberto Giacometti was a Swiss artist, known as one of the main modern sculptors of the post-war period. His strong personality is reflected in his approach to surreal human forms that explore the themes of death and memory. Born in Borgonovo, in the Bregaglia valley, on October 10, 1901, to a portrait sculptor father, he was pushed by him to practice drawing before studying at the Geneva School of Fine Arts. In 1922, Giacometti joined the avant-garde of cubist and surrealist artists in Paris and became a student of Antoine Bourdelle at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. First influenced by the cubist and surrealist dominant artistic scene in the 1930s, his first artworks are deeply rooted into the search of the symbolic form of reality. It was not until 1935 that Alberto Giacometti returned to figuration, more particularly the human model. As time goes by Giacometti developed the scale work relating to the body and the model, which becomes essential in his practice. The human forms are distinguished by their threadlike character and the fragility that it evokes. From sculpture Giacometti continued the practice of drawing which he considers as an essential complement to his artistic approach especially in terms of the expression of lines and textures. His most emblematic work, The Walking Man addresses this unique exploration of sensations and emotions through texture and materials. Alberto Giacometti’s work can also be understood as linked to the artist’s own experience and unstable historical context, “I paint and sculpt to get a grip on reality ... to protect myself”. A true visionary, distancing himself from the artistic trend of his time, Giacometti overturns the codes with the totemic forms that he carves and allows the spectator to reconnect with his deep being. At the end of his career, Giacometti had achieved worldwide recognition, receiving the top prize at the 1962 Venice Biennale and a major retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1965. He died on January 11, 1966 in Chur, Switzerland. In 2015, his masterpiece Pointing Man (1947), sold at auction for a record-breaking $ 142.8 million. Today, Giacometti’s works are permanently in the collections of major international museums such as the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Tate Gallery in London, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.

Alberto Giacometti

  • Exhibitions 19

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