Alberto Giacometti, [Head of a Man (Lotar I)], c. 1964–65 (cast 1968), bronze, 10 1/4 × 11 1/8 × 4 1/8 inches (26 × 28.1 × 10.4 cm), E.A. I / II © 2014 Alberto Giacometti Estate / Licensed by VAGA and ARS , New York
Alberto Giacometti’s art creates a profound experience of figure and space. Focusing on the “energetic” quality of the void (the space immediately surrounding a person or object), his work is at once conceptual and emotional, anonymous and specific, ancient and modern. Issues of mortality, embodiment, and the human condition manifest in his emaciated figures, isolated in space. Throughout his career, his sculptures, paintings, and drawings were described as Surrealist, Existentialist, and Expressionist; his work at once applying to all, but conforming to none. Jean-Paul Sartre poetically interprets his Existentialist notion of space: “Giacometti knows that space is a cancer on being, and eats everything; to sculpt, for him, is to take the fat off space, he compresses space, so as to drain off its exteriority.”
Giacometti’s first large-scale exhibitions were organized by the Arts Council Gallery, London (1955); and Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland (1956). In 1962, Giacometti was awarded the grand prize for sculpture at the Biennale di Venezia, and the award brought with it worldwide celebrity. In later years, Giacometti's works were shown in a number of large exhibitions throughout Europe, including retrospectives at Kunsthaus Zürich, Switzerland; Tate Gallery, London; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and Louisiana Museum, Denmark. In 1965, amidst great international popularity, he traveled to the United States for an exhibition of his works at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. In this same year, the Alberto Giacometti Foundation was inaugurated.
Alberto Giacometti was born in 1901 in Borgonovo, Switzerland, and died in 1966 in Chur, Switzerland. In 1922, he moved to Paris and studied at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. Recent solo museum exhibitions include Kunsthaus Zürich, Switzerland (2001); “Giacometti: 1901–1966,” Szépmüvészeti Múzeum, Budapest (2004); “Une communauté de regards,” Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris (2005, traveled to Kunsthaus Zürich, Switzerland); “The Studio of Alberto Giacometti: Collection of the Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti,” Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2007–08); Kunsthal Rotterdam, the Netherlands (2008); Pushkin Museum, Moscow (2008); Fondation Beyeler, Basel (2009); Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany (2010, traveled to Museum der Moderne Mönchsberg, Austria, through 2011); “The Origin of Space. The Mature Works,” Museum der Moderne, Austria (2011); Pinacoteca do Estado, São Paulo (2012, traveled to Museu de Arte Moderna, Rio de Janeiro; and Fundación Proa, Buenos Aires); “Space, Head, Figure,” Musée de Grenoble, France (2013); “La scultura,” Galleria Borghese, Rome (2014); Pera Museum, Istanbul (2015); Yuz Museum, Shanghai (2016); and Tate Modern, London (2017). Gagosian mounted its first Giacometti exhibition in 1993 and inaugurated its new gallery in Geneva with his work in 2010.