‘.. a few of my favourite things … ‘ #3: Alberto Giacometti


Another of my favourite artists whose work I repeatedly go back to immerse myself in is Alberto Giacometti. Even though I don’t agree with some of his philosophies, I find his work incredibly inspiring. A few years ago I was privileged to see a thorough retrospective of his work at the AGNSW. It contained not just work he was famous for, but much early material so you could easily trace his development – a great show!

The Swiss artist showed gifting from a young age, with his father a prominent Post-impressionist painter. As he matured he rubbed shoulders with such huge figures as Miro, Ernst & Picasso. After dabbling with the Surrealist movement in the late 1920’s/early30s he broke from the group, painting from models again and befriending the likes of Sartre and de Beauvoir. During the wartime, his paintings and sculptures underwent a revolution. His depiction of figures appeared isolated, became severely attenuated, which was the result of continuous reworking. He attempted to create renditions of his models the way he saw them, and the way he thought they ought to be seen. He once said that he was sculpting not the human figure but “the shadow that is cast.”

A catalogue preface for a show in New York, written by Sartre, did much to propagate the idea that Giacometti’s art was now one ‘of existential reality’

In 2003 Dupin offered this, I believe, an apt description of Giacometti’s work: “Through an invisible presence, it attracts and retains the eye by acting on the outer appearances of which it is a prisoner, in changing what I see. The vision, simultaneously purified and enlarged by the revelation of the internal dimensions of beings and things, suffices to change the aspect of the world.”