Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966)

Biography

Alberto Giacometti was a Swiss sculptor, painter, draftsman and printmaker, best known for his elongated totemic sculptures of human figures. Today he is hailed as one of the most important scuptors of the 20th century.

Born in Borgonovo, Switzerland in 1901, Giacometti belonged to a family of artists. His father was the Post-Impressionist painter Giovanni Giacometti and his brother the sculptor Diego Giacometti. He studied painting and sculpture at the École des Arts Industriels in Geneva before moving to Paris in 1922. While in Paris Giacometti studied sculpture under Antoine Bourdelle, an associate of Rodin, and mixed with the Surrealists, befriending Man Ray, Joan Miró and Andre Breton. In the early 1930s Giacometti abandoned his Surrealist influences in order to pursue a deeper analysis of figurative compositions. He spent much time sculpting the human head, focusing on the sitter's gaze, preferring models he was close to, such as his sister Isabel. Gradually his statues became more and more elongated, but still small in scale.

During World War II Giacometti took refuge in Switzerland where he met Annette Arm, who would become his wife and main female model. After World War II he created his most famous sculptures: his tall and slender figurines. As his sculptures became larger and thinner so did his paintings and he frequently revisited his subjects: one of his favourite models was his younger brother Diego. While his paintings only constitute a small proportion of his oeuvre, after 1957 they were equally as present. In 1962 Giacometti was awarded the grand prize for sculpture at the Venice Biennale and with it came woldwide fame. In these later years Giacometti's works were shown in a number of large exhibitions throughout Europe and in 1965 the Museum of Modern Art in New York held a major retrospective of his work.

Giacometti died in 1966 and today his works are held in collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum, L.A, the Tate Gallery, London, the Solomon R.Guggenheim Museum, New York and the Kunsthaus Zürich among others.