Go See – Basel: Alberto Giacometti at the Fondation Beyeler through October 11, 2009

June 18th, 2009

A look at the sculptures of Alberto Giacometti, featured in an exhibition at Fondation Beyeler.

The summer exhibition at the Fondation Beyeler, showing from May 30th until October 11, features 150 sculptures by the late Alberto Giacometti.   The exhibit is comprised of sculptures, drawings, paintings and more, drawn from museums, family holdings, and private collections.  Also displayed are works by Giacometti’s father, the painter Giovanni Giacometti; his brother Diego, a sculptor; and his uncle Augusto, who worked in paint and mosaics.

Related links:
Fondation Beyeler – Giacometti
Giacometti/Fondation Beyeler [Vernissage TV]
Fondation Beyeler Opens Exhibition Including Works by Alberto Giacometti and His Family [Artdaily]
Alberto Giacometti Biography [artDirectory]
Biography of Augusto Giacometti [Rai International online]
Art in Review: Alberto Giacometti [New York Times]

A particular highlight of the show is a collection of all nine versions of the Femme de Venise (Woman of Venice), first shown together at the 1956 Venice Biennale.  The space, carefully designed by Renzo Piano with light expert Charles Keller and the architect Hans Jörg Ruch, brings into sharp relief the elongated nature of the Femme de Venise, itself representative of Giacometti’s sculptures. Many of Giacometti’s sculptures are of bodies, thin figurines that often seem delicate, and lonely.  Accordingly, Giacometti’s tiny (as its name suggests) Petit homme sur socle (Small man on pedestal) has a room all to itself at Fondation Beyeler.

Alberto Giacometti, Femme de Venise IX (Woman of Venice IX), 1956, via the North Carolina Museum of Art.

Alberto Giacometti, Petit homme sur socle (Small man on pedestal), 1940, via Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.

Alberto Giacometti, Homme gui marche sous la pluie (Man Walking in the Rain), 1948, at Fondation Beyeler.

Alberto Giacometti, Quatre femmes sur socle (Four women on pedestal), 1950, at Fondation Beyeler.

Given the scope of the exhibition, the show seeks to focus its viewers on Alberto Giacometti the person — the arc of his art, with works both early and late, influenced as they were by his family.  Born in 1901 in Borgonovo, now the Swiss municipality Stampa, Giacometti trained at Geneva’s School of Fine Arts before studying cubism and surrealism with sculptor Antoine Bourdelle in Paris.  His mother, Annetta, and wife, Annette, figure prominently in his artwork; in fact, the entire family sat with Alberto and his father for portraits.  The inclusion of La mère de l’artiste (The Artist’s Mother) in the exhibition only underscores its emphasis on Giacometti’s art, as it surrounds and draws from the artist’s family.  The viewer should also take notice of the Grande tête de Diego (Large Head of Diego), Diego being Alberto’s brother.

Alberto Giacometti, Grand Nu (Tall Nude), 1962, at Fondation Beyeler.

Alberto Giacometti, La mère de l’artiste (The Artist’s Mother), 1950, at Fondation Beyeler.

Alberto Giacometti, Grande tête de Diego (Large Head of Diego), 1954, at Fondation Beyeler.

Pensiora (Pensive Girl), by Giovanni Giacometti, Alberto’s father. At Fondation Beyeler.

Eine Besteigung des Piz Duan (An Ascent of Piz Duan), by Augusto Giacometti, Alberto’s uncle. at Fondation Beyeler.

The artist long found a patron in his friend, Ernst Beyeler, and much of his later artwork is part of the Ernst and Hildy Beyeler Collection.  Beyeler generously endowed the Giacometti Foundation in Zurich in the 1960’s, which organized this exhibition in collaboration with the Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti, Paris.

Alberto Giacometti, Self-Portrait, 1921, at Fondation Beyeler.

Alberto Giacometti, Main prise (Caught Hand), 1932, at Fondation Beyeler.

Alberto Giacometti, Le chariot (The Chariot), 1950, at Fondation Beyeler.

Alberto Giacometti, Le chien (The dog), 1951, at Fondation Beyeler.

Alberto Giacometti, L’homme qui marche II (Walking Man II), 1960, at Fondation Beyeler.

Alberto Giacometti, Grande femme III (Tall Woman III), 1960, at Fondation Beyeler.

– Rivka Fogel