Alberto Giacometti

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Giacometti, Alberto

(älbĕr`tō jäkōmĕt`tē), 1901–66, Swiss sculptor and painter; son of the impressionist painter Giovannia Giacometti; b. Stampa. He settled in Paris in 1922, studying with BourdelleBourdelle, Émile Antoine
, 1861–1929, French sculptor; son of a cabinetmaker of Montauban. He went to Paris in 1884, where he studied successively under Falguière, Dalou, and Rodin.
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 and becoming associated first with the cubists and then the surrealists (see cubismcubism,
art movement, primarily in painting, originating in Paris c.1907. Cubist Theory

Cubism began as an intellectual revolt against the artistic expression of previous eras.
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; surrealismsurrealism
, literary and art movement influenced by Freudianism and dedicated to the expression of imagination as revealed in dreams, free of the conscious control of reason and free of convention.
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). His Slaughtered Woman (1932; Mus. of Modern Art, New York City), for example, is a violent surrealist work. Giacometti abandoned surrealist images in 1935. In the 1930s and thereafter, he created highly original sculptures of elongated, emaciated human figures, usually in bronze. He also made open cagelike structures (e.g., The Palace at 4 AM, 1933; Mus. of Modern Art, New York City) that were equally powerful.

Giacometti's haunting, anguished images have been described as perfect expressions of existentialist pessimism. In the early 1940s he created works on a drastically reduced scale. In his later years he again formed tall, slender, roughly worked figures that are among his most impressive sculptures. In his mature work, he concentrated on three basic themes for his attenuated figures—the seated portrait, the walking man, and the standing female nude, the latter two often with tiny shrunken heads and enormous, rooted feet. Giacometti's imagery and his plastic technique have had an extensive influence on modern sculpture. Many of his oil paintings and drawings, notably his portraits with their delicate, weblike tangle of lines, are also works of great distinction.


See biography by J. Lord (1985); catalog of the Museum of Modern Art (1965); drawings ed. by J. Lord (1971); J. Lord, Giacometti Portrait (1965), studies by R. Hohl (1971) and D. Sylvester (1996).

Giacometti, Alberto


Born Oct. 10, 1901, in Stampa; died Jan. 11, 1966, in Chur. Swiss sculptor and painter.

Giacometti studied at the Ecole des Arts et Metiers in Geneva from 1919 to 1920 and at the Académie de la Grande-Chaumiere in Paris under E. A. Bourdelle from 1922 to 1925. Experimenting initially with cubism, he was influenced by surrealism between 1929 and 1935. Giacometti is best known for his works executed from 1940 to 1960. These include extremely thin elongated sculptured figures bordering on the irrational (for example, City Square, 1948-49, bronze, Public Art Collection, Basel), rough-textured busts, oil and graphic portraits, landscapes, and still lifes. The spiritual loneliness of man in a bourgeois world is distinctly conveyed by the tragic solitude of Giacomettïs images.