Alberto Giacometti

Alberto Giacometti

Alberto Giacometti was a Swiss sculptor and painter best known for his sculptures of elongated, withering human forms. The philosopher Jean Paul Sartre described his sculptures as, “always mediating between nothing and being”.

Born in 1901 in Switzerland, Giacometti was the eldest of four siblings, his father being the post-impressionist painter Giovanni Giacometti. Coming from such a background, Alberto was interested in art from a very early age, and studied at the Geneva School of Fine Arts. In 1922 he moved to Paris to study under the sculptor Antoine Bourdelle, a contemporary of Rodin’s. Giacometti began experimenting with cubism and surrealism from his studio on the Rue Hipolyte Mandrion, and before long became the leading sculptor within the surrealist movement.

Giacometti’s iconic, spindly, often bronze figures, such as L’homme au doigt and Walking Man (L’Homme qui marche I), Standing Woman; often embody three themes: the walking man; the standing, nude woman; and the bust — or all three, combined.

Giacometti’s emotional responses to his subjects, and in turn, the fragility of existence, were not only reflected through sculpture, but through his paintings and drawings as well. Although Giacometti’s paintings are often overlooked, the impact of his expressive paintings and prints, portraits of stark figures, and lyrical drawings, continue to inspire artists and art collectors alike.

His solo retrospective at the National Portrait Gallery in 2015 Pure Presence, focused on his lesser-known portraits, and attracted some 48,500 visitors.