Alberto Giacometti

Dates1901 - 1966

Alberto Giacometti created a varied body of sculptures, paintings, and drawings, but he is best known for his sculptures of tall, thin, and rigid women and men often mounted on large bases. In the destructive wake of World War II, these figures--skeletal, seemingly anonymous and isolated--were embraced as powerful metaphors of the human condition.

Raised in Switzerland, Giacometti studied art in Geneva before moving to Paris in the early 1920s. In 1927, he settled in Montparnasse where he met artists and intellectuals of the period including Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso, Jean-Paul Sartre and others. Increasingly focused on sculpture, Giacometti began creating a wide variety of abstract forms inspired by the work of Picasso, Constantin Brancusi, and other contemporary artists, as well as by African and Oceanic sculpture.

The Surrealists championed Giacometti's sculpture and he eventually joined the group. He produced increasingly somber objects representing Surrealist themes: dreams, hallucinations, sexuality, and violence. In addition to sculpting in plaster, Giacometti experimented with glass, wood and string.

Giacometti entered into a period of intense productivity at the end of World War II. He began creating elongated and emaciated male and female nudes and also returned to drawing and painting. His work was championed by Sartre and aligned with the Existentialist movement. Giacometti began working in bronze and on larger scale works. During his later years, Giacometti greeted a constant stream of patrons and admirers at his modest Montparnasse studio.