MALAGA, SPAIN – The Museo Picasso Málaga presents Alberto Giacometti. A Retrospective, an exhibition that precisely reflects the different stages in the career of one of the outstanding artists of the last century. Giacometti’s work is crucial to understanding the development of the avant-gardes and the subsequent evolution of contemporary art, while as an artist he nevertheless defies classification. This project challenges the conventional reductionist view of Giacometti’s oeuvre. This is the first Alberto Giacometti retrospective to be held in Spain in more than 20 years, and it will bring together 198 artworks in the Palacio de Buenavista. The 20 photographs and 166 of the other works are from the collections of the Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti, in Paris, created by the artist’s widow.
The show is completed by three works by Gioacometti that are on loan from private collections and from the Zurich Kunsthaus, along with a work by José Ruiz Blasco and a selection of eight works by Pablo Picasso from private collections, the MPM’s own permanent collection and the Fundación Picasso Casa Natal. On view 17 October through 5 Februay, 2012.
The activities that have been scheduled to take place alongside this exhibition include workshops, jointly organized with ONCE, that involve six resin copies of sculptures by Alberto Giacometti; a seminar that will examine the subject of Architects, Film-makers and Artists in their Studios; a series of talks to be held in Malaga and Paris on The Artist’s Studio; guided tours of the exhibition for adults and schoolchildren, and workshops for school group during term-time and for children in general during the Christmas holidays.
With his exhibition of Alberto Giacometti (Borgonovo, Switzerland, 1901 – Chur, Switzerland, 1966), the Museo Picasso Málaga presents the work of a key figure in twentieth-century art and a contemporary of Pablo Picasso, with whom he coincided in Paris, although, though the Swiss artist was a generation younger. Despite the evident aesthetic and existential differences that characterize their work and their attitudes, there are significant points in common in the two artists’ careers, such as being sons of artists, their academic training, their move to Paris during their youth from peripheral countries to the artistic centre of the time, and their shared interest in the Old Masters.
The exhibition also addresses other key facets of Giacometti’s life and work, such as his obsession with inventing new modes of representation by stripping traditional genres such as the portrait, the still-life, the human figure and landscape down to the barest minimum. The show also explores his belief in the existence of a reality beyond the realm of appearances, as evidenced by his brief foray into Surrealism – a reality he perceived as being in constant flux and transformation.
The 169 works by Giacometti brought together for this exhibition, which include oil paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, furniture and textiles, and the 20 photographs by other artists documenting the artist at work, are grouped in different sections and arranged chronologically to show the successive stages of his aesthetic evolution: the earliest works, his arrival in Paris and first exposure to non-academic influences, his interest in late Cubism, his artistic relationship with creative talents such as Picasso and Cézanne, the notion of the cage as delimited space and the human as an artistic genre, among other topics. Alongside them are displayed a small selection of works by Pablo Picasso that illustrate the common features of both artists, as described above.
It should be pointed out that twenty of the works that have been brought to Malaga – amongst them two oil paintings – have never before been on loan from the Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti for exhibition purposes. This is therefore the first time they have been on show. Also on display is an interactive digital version of a 1932 sketchbook of Giacometti’s drawings that reveals the Swiss artist’s explicit interest in a group of works by Pablo Picasso that are specific in terms of period and form.
A journey through his work
A painter, sculptor, draftsman, printmaker, creator of decorative objects and writer, Giacometti never ceased to explore new artistic paths. The exhibition as a whole bears witness to his disturbing and wonderful world and the coherence of his aesthetic position.
Alberto Giacometti. A Retrospective begins with works from the family setting of his early years, and the first portraits and anatomical studies. One of the key sections of the exhibition traces the artist’s development from his arrival in Paris in 1922 and his attempts to engage as a sculptor with late Cubism in the second half of the twenties and the early thirties and with the tenets of Surrealism, from his first contacts with Jean Cocteau and André Masson in 1929 through to his admission into André Breton’s circle in 1931.
During the thirties Giacometti devoted a part of his energies to applied arts, designing and making furniture and decorative objects, a number of examples of which are included in the show. This line of work gave added impetus to his experimentation and his sculptural exploration of a new idea of place, with an aesthetic far removed now from Cubism and Surrealism. He now set himself to question the value of abstract art as a credible vision of reality, and in engaging with and reworking the traditional genres made a unique contribution to the history of twentieth century art.
During the second half of the thirties, after he was expelled from the surrealist group, he began to focus on the relation between figure and pedestal, on the expression of architectural and spatial qualities, highlighting the work of art as the nucleus that facilitates the experience of place. One of the most innovative departures here is the affirmation of the value of real movement in sculpture.
From 1946 on, are the stretched and elongated threadlike figures sculpted in bronze that inhabit a space shared with the viewer. These are complemented by a series of oil paintings in which the representation of the protagonists strips them of subjectivity in order to endow them with objective intensity and luminosity. For Giacometti, sculpture was of interest to the extent that it embodied his vision of the outside world. The exhibition concludes with the impressive figure of the Walking Man I from the sixties, the culmination of a life and a career of absolute dedication to his work.
The exhibition also includes a remarkable selection of Giacometti’s prints and drawings, which focus on the modes of representation of the artist’s studio and models, and a series of works that bear witness to his appreciation of the art of other cultures, notably those of Africa and Oceania.
The exhibition is curated by art historian Véronique Wiesinger, director of the Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti in Paris and one of the world’s foremost experts on the artist’s work, in collaboration with José Lebrero Stals, artistic director of the Museo Picasso Málaga.
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