Artworks by Giacometti at the 31° Venice Biennale in 1962, photographed by Paolo Monti
Giacometti died in 1966 of heart disease (pericarditis) and chronic bronchitis at the Kantonsspital in Chur, Switzerland. His body was returned to his birthplace in Borgonovo, where he was interred close to his parents.
Giacometti is on at Tate Modern 10 May – 10 September 2017.
Despite this, Giacometti continued to work from the same space for the rest of his career and hosted many cultural figures there, including philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, novelist Samuel Beckett, artist Henri Matisse and actress Marlene Dietrich.
Alberto Giacometti didn’t sculpt heroes on horseback; he depicted everyday humans — and animals — struggling to get through the day. Above, his 1951 bronze sculpture Dog (Le chien).
“You can see his fingerprints in the clay . like scars,” Grenier says. “There is a lot of violence in his work.”
On the way through the North Wing to the Giacometti Gallery, Louisiana guests encounter two important works from his Surrealist period, namely Spoon Woman and Walking Woman. In the Gallery itself, on the other hand (and in the small “sketches” behind glass in the wall by the Children’s Wing), await the more mature Giacometti and the sculptures that appear at once both strangely modern and very, very old-fashioned.
Writing in his book ‘Louisiana abc’ museum director Poul Erik Tøjner calls Giacometti “an apostle of laboriousness”. An artist who destroyed one study after another, corrected them, started all over again and again and almost tormented the life of his models – but only rarely gave up:
Cast in 1961, it was exhibited a year later at the Venice Biennale. It was created at the pinnacle of his career, where his experimentation with human anatomy had given way to the solidification of his style. Without a doubt the most emblematic of Giacometti’s practice, it integrates staticity and movement, heaviness of subject and lightness of matter. In his well-known melancholy, slender and alien walking men ‘appear to have been eaten away by the very atmosphere that surrounds them.’ Whether of his own accord or not, the artist’s bronze men have been taken as emblems of the crude reality of life in the second half of the century. A friend of existentialists, and a rather dark individual himself, Giacometti’s art shed light on human absurdity and fragility: ‘Emptiness filters through everywhere, each creature secretes his own void.’
Giacometti arrived in Paris at the age of 20, and was quick to absorb all the rich influences that the capital offered at the time. Although he was trained by Bourdelle in classical sculpture, the works of the Cubists and Brancusi interested him as well. It was through the discovery of African art, which was being regularly exhibited in Paris then, however, that he finally broke away from Western influences and appropriated the frontality, symbols, and metaphors of this type of art. In Spoon Woman, one of the most famous of his early sculptures, woman stands as a symbol of fertility, as seen by the Dan people of West Africa. In it we can see too influences of cubist shapes, and the beginning of an ever-lasting interest in the female and male types.