Alberto Giacometti - Photo of the artist in his studio - Image via dailyartfixx paris jean annette biography

Alberto Giacometti

Switzerland 1901 - 1966

Surrealism, Expressionism

Alberto Giacometti
Alberto Giacometti
March 20, 2017
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Emerging out of the conceptual basis of Surrealism and Cubism, Alberto Giacometti established his unique aesthetic style with delicate figurative sculptures and expressive portraits that resulted from intense observations. Particularly fascinated by Sartre’s writings for the entirety of his professional career, Giacometti was influenced by the ideas of Existentialism and wanted to make a clean and radical break with sculptural traditions that were stagnating the medium as far as this author was concerned. His artistic output is a unique mesh of ideas coming from the norms of primitive art, psychoanalytic theory and children’s art – his severe figures explore the psyche and the energized space occupied by a single individual[1]. Many experts and art pundits suggest that Alberto’s works can be analyzed and seen as metaphors for the postwar experience of doubt and alienation. It should also be noted that Giacometti’s production extends into painting and drawing as well, but this Swiss-born and Paris-based artist is most famous for his sculpted pieces.

Alberto Giacometti - Diego --- Tutt - Images via tateorguk and bpcom
Alberto Giacometti – Diego / Tutt – Images via and

Early Life and Related Art

Alberto Giacometti was born on the 10th of October in the year of 1901, in the small mountain village of Borgonovo, Switzerland, quite near the Italian-Swiss border. His father Giovanni was an accomplished painter who worked in the Post-Impressionist style. Additionally, both his godfather and an uncle were artists as well – all three of them provided Giacometti with his earliest instructions and artistic directions. When his family moved to the nearby town of Stampa in 1906, Giacometti was already showing a strong interest in drawing. By the time he was in his early teens, Giacometti had begun painting, sculpting and making wood etchings on regular basis and enjoyed great success.[2] Pursuing a career in art making practices, Alberto moved to Geneva in 1919 where he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts and École des Arts et Métiers. In 1920, he accompanied his father to the Venice Biennale and in 1921 he visited Rome, Florence and the surrounding areas[3]. During this time, Giacometti became enthralled with Egyptian and African art.

Alberto Giacometti - Two Figures, 1947 - Image via tateorguk
Alberto Giacometti – Two Figures, 1947 – Image via

Uninterested in the External Aspects

In the year of 1922, Giacometti moved to Paris to study under the sculptor Antoine Bourdelle, an associate of the famous Auguste Rodin. He spent the next four years he studied sculpture at the Académie de la Grande-Chaumière. In the City of Light, Alberto experimented with Cubism and Surrealism, soon coming to be regarded as one of the leading surrealist sculptors. He met and worked with the likes of Joan Miró, Max Ernst, Pablo Picasso, Bror Hjorth and Balthus. Giacometti started nurturing his newfound love for primitive art and his representations of the human body were becoming steadily more abstracted. By the time he graduated, Alberto completely abandoned any realism in his work and instead constantly aimed at conveying the psychological essence of his subject matter[4]. Two of his most important and representative works from this period are the famous Spoon Woman and The Couple.

Alberto Giacometti presented his artwork in such a fashion that the viewer was encouraged to physically interact with them – an idea which was very radical at the time

Alberto Giacometti - Dog - Image via hirshhornsiedu
Alberto Giacometti – Dog – Image via

Becoming a Head of Surrealism

In the early 1930s, Giacometti’s emerging style and its uncompromising nature endeared him to some of the Surrealist movement’s most important figures such as André Breton, Man Ray and Georges Bataille. Their massive influence on his work can be seen in such dreamlike, metaphorical pieces as Suspended Ball (1931), Walking Woman I (1932) and The Palace at 4 a.m. (1932). However, the personal inquiry into the nature of existence would ultimately lead Alberto away from the art of Surrealism. During the latter half of the fourth decade of the 20th century, Giacometti focused his energies on a series of head sculptures that were meant to convey his own physical relation to his models in space[5]. Unfortunately, when he was at the personal peak of creative endeavors, the outbreak of World War II and the advance of the German army into France forced Giacometti to flee Paris and return to Switzerland[6]. During this time, his sculptures became thin and increasingly small in size, lending the figures an air of loneliness and suffering.

Giacometti’s work of the 1930s may arguably be the most important collection of pieces belonging to Surrealist sculpture

Alberto Giacometti - A Collection of His PIeces - Image via pinterestcom
Alberto Giacometti – A Collection of His PIeces – Image via

Not Like Anything Else on the Post WWII Scene

After Giacometti returned to Paris following the end of the war, he soon found out that his earlier pieces and the existentialist philosophies behind them were already quite popular in the capital of France. His new pieces struck a chord with the pervasive postwar feelings of despair and loneliness. Now highly sought after by both the museums and collectors, Alberto’s work earned him solo exhibitions in New York City in 1948 and 1950. His art became a symbol of just how big a toll the German horrors took on the whole of Europe and Giacometti was oftentimes described as always halfway between nothingness and being. During the 1950s, Giacometti’s work continued to evolve constantly as his sculptures were becoming larger, thinner and more complicated in design[7]. Additionally, he also undertook a series of dark, intense portraits of family members, primarily his wife, Annette whom he married in 1949 and his brother Diego. He also portrayed some of his well-known friends such as Jean Genet, Henri Matisse and Igor Stravinsky.

After World War II, Alberto Giacometti focused on finding a language through which to represent the figure through unconventional methods

Contact the Swiss Arts Paintings museum for the biography issues
Alberto Giacometti – Composition (Man and Woman), 1927 / Woman of Venice III, 1956 – Images via and

Last Phases of His Art

Internationally famous by 1965, Giacometti had many opportunities in the mature period of his life. He began a lengthy period of illustrated works for books by contemporary authors such as Paul Eluard and revered writers of the past like Cervantes and Balzac. He was also commissioned by Samuel Beckett to create a tree sculpture for a production of his Waiting for Godot and in 1962 he was awarded the Grand Prize for Sculpture at the Venice Biennale. This was a true crown of his career as Alberto revered Venice Biennale ever since the time his father took him along on the festival. Two years later, he received the Guggenheim International Award for Painting that was followed by retrospectives of his work at the Tate Gallery[8] in London and the Museum of Modern Art[9] in New York. Unfortunately, by that time, his health was already quite bad. Alberto Giacometti died of cardiac exhaustion on the 11th of January in the year of 1966, in Chur, Switzerland.

Although the 1950s art world was eager to discover the limits of abstract painting, Giacometti’s figurative sculptures still managed to become an international sensation that awed its audiences

In Paris on the 1966 October, Jean Annette met the painter and artist Picasso in his studio
Alberto Giacometti – Piazza – Image via

Significance of Alberto Giacometti and His Artworks

Ultimately, Alberto Giacometti managed to do what he always desired the most – to inspire and put into motion a radical revision of the representational tradition in sculpture. This evolution within one of the most conventional mediums can be seen as a key moment of shifting enthusiasms within European art after the Second World War and Giacometti led the way for others emerging from that crucial period of 20th-century art. Alberto devised controversial and innovative sculptural forms unlike anything else on the scene, oftentimes reminiscent of toys and games, dictating the future of sculpture as a form of art. His works, whether sculpted or drawn on paper, summed up the artist’s interests in perception, sexuality, obsession, alienation, innovation and anxiety, effectively turning Giacometti into a household name of modern art that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.


  1. Grenier, C., Alberto Giacometti, Ore Cultura Srl, 2015
  2. González, A., Giacometti, A., Alberto Giacometti: Works, Writings, Interviews (Essentials Poligrafa), Poligrafa, 2007
  3. Giacometti, A., Schneider, A., Alberto Giacometti: Sculptures, Paintings, Drawings, Prestel Publishing, 1997
  4. Klemm, C., Lachner, C., Bezzola, T., Umland, A., Alberto Giacometti, Museum of Modern Art; 1st edition, 2001
  5. Moorhouse, P., Giacometti, A., Giacometti: Pure Presence, National Portrait Gallery, 2015
  6. Peppiatt, M., In Giacometti’s Studio, Yale University Press, 2010
  7. Zürich, K., Büttner, P., Crescenzo, C. D., Grenier, C., Haupt, T., Klemm, C., Alberto Giacometti–Beyond Bronze: Masterworks in Plaster and Other Materials, Scheidegger and Spiess, 2017
  8. Brüderlin, M., Wallner, J., Stooss, T., Giacometti, A., Alberto Giacometti: The Origin of Space: Retrospective of the Mature Work, Hatje Cantz, 2011
  9. Rütiman, D., Dufrêne, T., Crescenzo, C. D., Schneider, N., Giacometti, A., Alberto Giacometti: Retrospective, JRP|Ringier, 2010

Featured image: Alberto Giacometti – Photo of the artist in his studio – Image via
All images used for illustrative purposes only.

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2017Alberto GiacomettiThe National Art Center Tokyo, Tokyo Solo
2017Alberto GiacomettiTate Modern, London Solo
2017Derain, Balthus, GiacomettiMusée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de ParisGroup
2017Cranach. MeisterMuseum Kunstpalast, Dusseldorf Group
2017Preface #2kamel mennour, London Group
2017Picasso-GiacomettiFire Station Artist in Residence, Doha Group
2017No ExitPeter Blum Gallery, New York City, NY Group
2017The Sculptural LineThe Getty Center, Los Angeles, CA Group
2017Masterworks from the Hirshhorn CollectionHirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC Group
2017The Human FormJohn Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco, CA Group
2016Alberto Giacometti: A Line Through TimeSainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich Solo
2016Retrospective GiacomettiMusée Mohammed VI d'Art Moderne et Contemporain, Rabat Solo
2016Alberto Giacometti RetrospectiveYuz Museum Shanghai, Shanghai Solo
2016Alberto Giacometti In His Own Words: Sculptures 1925-1934Luxembourg & Dayan London, London Solo
2016Origines et horizon. La Collection d'art NestléMusée Jenisch, Vevey Group
2016Beckmann, Picasso, Giacometti & more.Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Vaduz Group
2016 Plane.siteGagosian Gallery, San Francisco, CA Group
2016César in ContextLuxembourg & Dayan London, London Group
2016In Search of the AbsoluteGagosian Gallery, London Group
2016Sculpture on the Move 1946–2016Kunstmuseum Basel, Basel Group
2016Unfinished: Thoughts Left VisibleMet Breuer, New York City, NY Group
2016Works on Paper and WoodHilgerBROTKunsthalle, Vienna Group
2016CarambolagesGaleries nationales du Grand Palais, Paris Group
2015Alberto Giacometti Pure PresenceNational Portrait Gallery (NPG), London Solo
2015Alberto GiacomettiFonds Hélène et Édouard Leclerc, Landerneau Solo
2015Alberto Giacometti And Yanaihara IsakuPera Museum, Istanbul Solo
2015Giacometti. El Hombre Que MiraFundacion Canal, Madrid Solo
2015Picasso to Francis BaconHangaram Art Museum, Seoul Group
2015The Shape of TimeGagosian Gallery, Hong Kong Group
2015Dark AgesAEROPLASTICS contemporary, Brussels Group
2015Orizzonte Nord-SudMuseo d’arte della Svizzera italiana (MASILugano), Lugano Group
2015ProportioPalazzo Fortuny, Venice Group
2015ProportioAxel & May Vervoordt Foundation, Venice Group
2015Les Clefs d'une passionFondation Louis Vuitton, Paris Group
2015Taking Shape: Modern Works From The Permanent CollectionPalm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs, CA Group
2015Jahrhundertzeichen. Tel Aviv Museum of Art visits BerlinMartin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin Group
2015de-FORMATIONSBruce Silverstein Gallery, New York City, NY Group
2015Cézanne bis RichterKunstmuseum Basel | Gegenwart, Basel Group
2014GiacomettiVilla Reale, Milan Solo
2014Giacometti in Two DimensionsThe Israel Museum, Jerusalem Solo
2014Alberto Giacometti. Zeichnungen und AquarelleKunsthaus Zürich, Zurich Solo
2014Alberto Giacometti & On KawaraYoshii Gallery, New York City, NY Group
2014Disturbing InnocenceFLAG Art Foundation, New York City, NY Group
201430 Jahre Fischerplatz GalerieFischerplatz Galerie | BEGE Galerien, Ulm Group
2014Von 1900 bis heuteVon der Heydt Museum, Wuppertal Group
2014on paperChristine König Galerie, Vienna Group
2014Face à l'oeuvreFondation Maeght, Saint-Paul Group
2013Giacometti. Signaturen des MenschenLehmbruck Museum, Duisburg Solo
2013Giacometti. Terrenos de juegoFundación MAPFRE, Madrid Solo
2013Alberto GiacomettiMusee de Grenoble, Grenoble Solo
2013Alberto Giacometti. BegegnungenBucerius Kunst Forum, Hamburg Solo
2013Giacometti. The Playing FieldsHamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg Solo
2013théâtre du mondeLa Maison Rouge, Paris Group
2013From Monet to PicassoKunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Vaduz Group
2013Carte Blanche À Jean-pascal LÉgerGalerie Christophe Gaillard, Paris Group
2012Alberto Giacometti DessinsGalerie Claude Bernard, Paris Solo
2012Alberto GiacomettiThomas Gibson Fine Art, London Solo
2012Giacometti: Memory and PresenceBechtler Museum of Modern Art, Charlotte, NC Solo
2012Alberto GiacomettisKunsthaus Zürich, Zurich Solo
2012Mythos AtelierStaatsgalerie Stuttgart, Stuttgart Group
2012The SupersurrealismModerna Museet Malmö, Malmö Group
2012Une collection privéeGALERIE BRUN LEGLISE, Paris Group
2012From Picasso to Koons. Artist’s JewelleryBenaki Museum, Athens Group
2012Dancing towards the EssenceKunsthaus Grenchen, Grenchen Group
2012Ein Wald der SkulpturenStiftung Opelvillen, Rüsselsheim Group
2012Everything’s InevitableManchester Art Gallery, Manchester Group
2012Hubert Looser CollectionBank Austria Kunstforum, Vienna Group
2012Micro ManiaGagosian Gallery, Paris Group
2011Alberto Giacometti: Una RetrospectivaMuseo Picasso Málaga, Málaga Solo
2011Alberto Giacometti: Sehen im WerkKunsthaus Zürich, Zurich Solo
2011Schau mir in die AugenKunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Vaduz Group
2011L'Etoffe du TempsInstitut culturel Bernard Magrez, Bordeaux Group
2011Surrealismus in ParisFondation Beyeler, Riehen Group
2011Atlas. How to carry the world on one's back?Deichtorhallen Hamburg, Hamburg Group
2011Works in CeramicToyota Municipal Museum of Art, Toyota Aichi Group
201111e Biennale de Lyonbiennale d'art contemporain de Lyon, Lyon Group
2011TRA. The edge of becomingMuseo Fortuny, Venice Group
2010Alberto Giacometti. Der Ursprung des RaumesKunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Wolfsburg Solo
2010Giacometti & Maeght 1946-1966Fondation Maeght, Saint-Paul Solo
2010Alberto Giacometti: Sculptor of the 20Th Century SoulMuseum of Modern Art Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik Solo
2010Paris sans fin: Alberto Giacometti’s ParisFine Arts Museum of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA Solo
2010Alberto Giacometti: Die Frau auf dem WagenLehmbruck Museum, Duisburg Solo
2010Flower PowerKeitelman Gallery, Brussels Group
2010Teddybär und DamenschuhKunstmuseum Basel, Basel Group
2010Another WorlsDean Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland Group
2010Plastic Artists and their Grafic WorkKunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Vaduz Group
2010Art Deco MasterpiecesKukje Gallery, SeoulGroup
2009Alberto GiacomettiMusée Rath, Geneva Solo
2009GiacomettiGalerie Beyeler, Basel Solo
2009GiacomettiFondation Beyeler, Riehen Solo
2009Alberto Giacometti: DrawingsPeter Freeman, Inc., New York City, NY Solo
2009Giacometti, der ÄgypterKunsthaus Zürich, Zurich Solo
2008Alberto Giacometti. Sculpture. Painting. DrawingThe State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg Solo
2008 Cult of the Artist: Giacometti, the EgyptianAltes Museum, Berlin Solo
2008Alberto GiacomettiKunsthal Rotterdam, Rotterdam Solo
2008Giacometti, Leiris et IliazdMusée des Beaux-Arts de Caen, Caen Solo
2008Alberto GiacomettiCompton Verney, Compton Verney, Warwickshire Solo
2007Alberto GiacomettiCaixaForum Palma, Palma de Mallorca Solo
2007Alberto GiacomettiNikola Rukaj Gallery, Toronto, ON Solo
2007Alberto GiacomettiKunsthaus Zürich, Zurich Solo
2007Alberto Giacometti a la Col·lecció KlewanCentre Social i Cultural Lleida, Lleida Solo
2007Alberto Giacometti: Sculpteurs, Peintures et DessinsGalerie Patrice Trigano, Paris Solo
2006Alberto GiacomettiKawamura Memorial Museum of Art, Sakura, Chiba Solo
2006GiacomettiArt Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW Solo
2006Alberto GiacomettiHyogo Prefectural Museum of Art, Kobe Solo
2006Alberto GiacomettiJ&P Fine Art, Zurich Solo
2006Alberto Giacometti And Yanaihara IsakuThe Museum of Modern Art, Hayama, Hayama Solo
2006Alberto GiacomettiEgon Schiele Art Centrum Cesky Krumlov, Ceský Krumlov Solo
2006Alberto Giacometti and Isaku YanaiharaHyogo Prefectural Museum of Art, Kobe Solo
2006The Women of GiacomettiNasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, TX Solo
2005The Women of GiacomettiPace Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
2004Alberto Giacometti: Paintings And Drawings From Private CollectionsThomas Gibson Fine Art, London Solo
2004Alberto GiacomettiLefevre Fine Art Limited, London Solo
2002Alberto GiacomettiHong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong Solo
2001Alberto GiacomettiMuseum of Modern Art, New York City, NY Solo
2000Alberto GiacomettiInstitut Valencià d'Art Modern, Valencia Solo
2000Alberto GiacomettiBündner Kunstmuseum Chur, Chur Solo
1999Alberto Giacometti and Isaku YanaiharaKamakura Annex, Kanagawa Solo
1999Alberto GiacomettiArt Focus, Zurich Solo
1999Alberto GiacomettiKent Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
1998Giacometti and Japanese SculptureYoshii Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
1997Alberto GiacomettiKunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Munich Solo
1996Alberto Giacometti Print ExhibitionGana Art Gallery, Seoul Solo
1996Alberto GiacomettiKunsthalle wien project space karlsplatz, Vienna Solo
1995Alberto Giacometti dalle collezioni Guggenheim e Nasher.Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice Solo
1995Le sculture di Giacometti dalle collezioni GuggenheimPeggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice Solo
1994Alberto Giacometti: ZeichnungenGalerie Klewan, Munich Solo
1994Alberto GiacomettiMalmö Konsthall, Malmö Solo
1994Alberto Giacometti. Early Works in Paris (1922-1930)Yoshii Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
1993Alberto Giacometti: SculptureGagosian Gallery , New York City, NY Solo
1992Alberto GiacomettiSara Hildén Art Museum, Tampere Solo
1990Alberto GiacomettiMuseo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid Solo
1988Alberto GiacomettiDavid Nolan Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
1988Alberto GiacomettiStaatsgalerie Stuttgart, Stuttgart Solo
1987Alberto GiacomettiNeue Nationalgalerie, Berlin Solo
1986Alberto GiacomettiGemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague Solo
1985Alberto GiacomettiSidney Janis Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
1985Alberto GiacomettiAllan Frumkin Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
1983Albert Giacometti: Exploring the Ultimate. From the Collection of the Maeght FoundationMuseum of Fine Arts, Gifu, Gifu Solo
1982Alberto GiacomettiMusée d'art contemporain, Bordeaux Solo
1981Alberto GiacomettiKunstverein in Hamburg, Hamburg Solo
1981Alberto Giacometti: Sculpture, painting, drawingsSerpentine Gallery, London Solo
1979GiacomettiDallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX Solo
1978GiacomettiFondation Maeght, Saint-Paul Solo
1977Alberto GiacomettiHenie Onstad Art Centre, Høvikodden Solo
1977Alberto GiacomettiModerna Museet, Stockholm Solo
1976Alberto GiacomettiFundación Juan March, Madrid Solo
1976GiacomettiSidney Janis Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
1975Alberto Giacometti: dessinsGalerie Claude Bernard, Paris Solo
1975Alberto Giacometti: The Milton D. Ratner Family CollectionIndianapolis Museum of Art (IMA), Indianapolis, IN Solo
1974Ratner Collection of GiacomettiThe Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL Solo
1974Alberto Giacometti: A Retrospective ExhibitionThe Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH Solo
1970Alberto Giacometti: lithographs and etchings as well as some other worksFrank Perls Gallery, Beverly Hills, CA Solo
1965Alberto GiacomettiThe Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL Solo
1962Alberto GiacomettiKunsthaus Zürich, Zurich Solo
1953Sculpture and Paintings by Alberto GiacomettiArts Club of Chicago, Chicago, IL Solo
1948Exhibition of sculptures, paintings, drawings by Alberto GiacomettiPierre Matisse Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
1935Abstract Sculpture by Alberto GiacomettiArts Club of Chicago, Chicago, IL Solo