Alberto Giacometti was an artist of Swiss origin, born in Borgonovo in 1901. He grew up surrounded by artists such as his father, impressionist painter and his godfather, Fauviste painter.
When he finished his secondary studies, Alberto Giacometti went to live first in Geneva. There he studied painting, drawing and sculpture in the School of Fine Arts. And later in 1922 he decided to move to Paris, where he entered the Académie Of the Grande Chaumière of Montparnasse. He was supervised by Antoine Bourdelle who was disciple of the great Auguste Rodin.
In this academy is where Alberto Giacometti made contact with the cubism, although a few years later decided to opt for surrealism becoming in a few years a renowned surrealist sculptor of the time.
The influence of the Second World War on works of Alberto Giacometti
A hard description that comes very close to the reality of the work of Alberto Giacometti, since all these pieces were created after 1947, after World War II.
The artist of Swiss origin could have been a witness the effects of this terrible war, since he had to flee France just before the Nazi invasion on the capital. During that flight he could have seen the pain of the war first hand, because only 20 kilometres from Paris he experienced a bombing in which all the defenceless fugitives were riddled.
Obviously these facts influenced him, in his way of seeing the human being, especially focusing on the defenceless, weak, fragile man.
This great perfectionist who knew how to convey into all his works a great expressiveness, as in his human figures, many of them of realistic size, many of which had almost no face, but instead seemed to be disappearing, and which brought focus to the eyes, giving them great importance.
Alberto Giacometti and his social relations
If we moved back to the late 1920s Paris, specifically the Montparnasse district, we could safely deduce that this great artist had to rub shoulders with other famous individuals. For that time was tremendously fruitful for art and Paris concentrated a great Number of artists. For instance, artists like Joan Miró or Pablo Picasso among many others.
Similarly, they were not only artists with a brush or chisel, but also writers and philosophers such as Sartre, Samuel Beckett, Paul Éluard or André Breton. With the latter he worked, writing and drawing for his famous publication “Surrealism at the service of the Revolution”.
This stage of maturity, between the years 1935 and 1949, Alberto Giacometti began to focus his sculptural work on the human head. Specifically the eyes of man. As well on giving a more stretched appearance to all his creations, extending the extremities of his figures.
Alberto Giacometti had a very exclusive point of view of reality. For that reason, he intended for his sculptures to reflect his vision of the human body to a perfection. And he devoted many hours of work to each of his pieces.
His career was on the rise and after several successful exhibitions in Paris and New York, received in 1954 a very special commission. It consisted of designing a medallion reflecting the image of the painter Henri Matisse.
In 1962 Alberto Giacometti received an important award for his sculptures at the International Art Exhibition of Venice. Also known as the Venice Biennale. From which time he became internationally renown.
Alberto Giacometti’s main works
His main facet as an artist was developed within the sculpture with works as well known as the Suspended Ball. A piece created as an open iron cage holding in its interior a sphere hung by a rope, with a swinging motion, brushed sharp edges of a crescent shape and that appears to be supported on the base of the piece. With this work he began his foray into the surrealism of objects.
He also highlights his sculpture called “The Man Who Walks I“. A piece that a few years ago was auctioned at the prestigious Sotheby’s house for more than 74 million Euros. And can be found on the back of the 100 Swiss francs. It is a bronze sculpture that presents the image of a man who walks alone, with his long arms hanging at the sides, and with which he manages to capture the movement in a surprising way.
His most characteristic works, those for which this great artist is most remembered are those created in the early 1940s. Extremely thin human figures, often life-size, with a nervous air and a rough surface. An interpretation thereof elaborated by Martin Duque is available in our online art gallery titled Andante. A workart which is presented in different bronze materials as well as in two sizes.
Alberto Giacometti is one of those, not only in sculpture but also in painting.
Perhaps the most representative pieces of the work of this great author are his figures of walkers. He created them during his stage of maturity. Figures that represented men walking, alone, terribly thin, moving, their too long limbs and extremely expressive therein.
Alberto Giacometti’s work was well defined by his friend Jean Paul Sartre as pieces depicting emaciated men, made only of bones and skin, who perfectly represented a tormented human, the one who just went through the worst moment of his life and had reached the bottom. Figures representing the human being almost as a spectrum, alone, without a name and at an intermediate point between nothingness and being.
Giacometti’s work today
This great artist became one of the most prestigious sculptors of his time. He was internationally known in the result of having won the sculpture prize at the Venice Biennale.
Today, Alberto Giacometti is still a highly valued artist. To the point that one of his best known works, “The Man Who Walks I” was auctioned at Sotheby’s just a few years ago for more than 74 million euros. And his piece “The man who points” was auctioned at the prestigious Christie’s in New York for almost 125 million euros.
Numerous exhibitions tour the world with pieces by Alberto Giacometti. Such as the exhibition held in Rome in 2014 at the Villa Borghese, which featured a large collection of 40 pieces, including not only bronze or plaster sculptures, but also impressive drawings providing the visitors with a very broad review of the career of this artist.
His creations do not leave anyone indifferent. Whatever artistic style you like or what you seek to see in any piece. Anyone who sees a work of Alberto Giacometti will experience a strange feeling. Somewhat like movement, an amazing expressiveness that conveys movement and feeling.
His bronze sculptures are figures that appear to be weak, fragile, ready to break at any instant. The same happens like his drawings, which are sometimes a simple stroke.
Last year, the National Portrait Gallery in London held an exhibition in which they presented 70 portraits on paper, in bronze and on canvas representing the great quality of this artist.
Any opportunity that allows us to enjoy the work of this great artist should be used. Not just for its prestige but for the great quality presented.