Alberto Giacometti 1901–1966

Alberto Giacometti was a renowned sculptor and painter known for creating haunting, spindle-bodied sculptures that embodied the post-World War II psychic landscape. While most of his contemporaries were working in abstraction, Giacometti returned to the human form, exploring the immediate psychological and philosophical complexities of the era.

Giacometti was born in Borgonovo, Switzerland into a family of painters and artists. He started painting at the age of 12 and in 1919, attended the École des Arts Industriels in Geneva. In 1920 and 1921, he traveled with his father to Italy, where he encountered Egyptian art in Rome that deeply affected his artistic sensibility. He moved to Paris in 1922 to attend the Académie de la Grande-Chaumière and exhibited his first major bronze work, Spoon Woman in 1926 at the Salon des Tuileries. This work, while abstract, shows his enduring interest in the human form and draws from the iconography of primitive, African and Oceanic art. His approach to reducing the body to geometrical shapes gained him attention among the Cubists in Paris and he continued to work further into abstraction, eventually incorporating Surrealist motifs and Freudian principles into his sculpture in the early 1930s. An early, important work of his, Suspended Ball (1930), exhibited at the Galerie Pierre, is enigmatic in its erotic, dreamlike presence.

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