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Moderna Museum – GIACOMETTI – FACE TO FACE – October 10 2020 to January 17 2021 – Exercisplan 4, Stockholm, Sweden
ABOUT the artist
Alberto Giacometti (10 October 1901 – 11 January 1966) was a Swiss sculptor, painter, draftsman and printmaker. Beginning in 1922, he lived and worked mainly in Paris but regularly visited his hometown Borgonovo to see his family and work on his art.
Giacometti was one of the most important sculptors of the 20th century. His work was particularly influenced by artistic styles such as Cubism and Surrealism. Philosophical questions about the human condition, as well as existential and phenomenological debates played a significant role in his work. Around 1935 he gave up on his Surrealistic influences in order to pursue a more deepened analysis of figurative compositions. Giacometti wrote texts for periodicals and exhibition catalogues and recorded his thoughts and memories in notebooks and diaries. His self-critical nature led to great doubts about his work and his ability to do justice to his own artistic ideas but acted as a great motivating force.
Between 1938 and 1944 Giacometti’s sculptures had a maximum height of seven centimeters (2.75 inches). Their small size reflected the actual distance between the artist’s position and his model. In this context he self-critically stated: “But wanting to create from memory what I had seen, to my terror the sculptures became smaller and smaller”. After World War II, Giacometti created his most famous sculptures: his extremely tall and slender figurines. These sculptures were subject to his individual viewing experience—between an imaginary yet real, a tangible yet inaccessible space.
In Giacometti’s whole body of work, his painting constitutes only a small part. After 1957, however, his figurative paintings were equally as present as his sculptures. His almost monochromatic paintings of his late work do not refer to any other artistic styles of modernity
ABOUT the exhibition
Alberto Giacometti forged a singular path within European Modernism, restlessly seeking a new language for sculpture as a “double of reality”. The exhibition ”Giacometti – Face to Face” trails the evolution of Giacometti’s work from post-cubism through surrealism to post-war realism.
THE DIALOGUE WITH GEORGES BATAILLE, JEAN GENET AND SAMUEL BECKETT
At the age of twenty-one Alberto Giacometti (1901–1966) arrived in Paris to study sculpture at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. He participated in the intellectual life of the city, which before the Second World War was a hub for artists and intellectuals from all over the world. The close dialogue with the three writers Georges Bataille, Jean Genet and Samuel Beckett had a particularly strong impact on Giacometti. This exhibition sets out to trace the marks that Giacometti’s encounter with Beckett’s irrational, closed-off worlds, Bataille’s violent opposition to staid conventions and Genet’s reverential depictions of life in the margins of society, left on the artist’s work.
SURREALISM AND PREHISTORIC ART
Throughout his artistic career, Giacometti was preoccupied with his own inadequacy when it came to depicting reality. In the 1930s he exhibited his work with the Surrealists but soon went his own way. Instead of looking to abstract art, which dominated Paris at the time, Giacometti cast his gaze further back in time – to prehistoric art and non-Western art objects.
THE TALL FIGURES OF THE POSTWAR PERIOD
From relatively early on, Giacometti was counted among the major interpreters of the post-war era and today his fragile and strangely elongated figures are associated with the image of a resilient humanity. When working with a model he tried time and again to find a “likeness” between art and what he saw before him, restlessly seeking a new language for sculpture as a “double of reality”. By feeling his way forward with his hands in clay and plaster, he came to change our view of sculpture.
”Giacometti – Face to Face” is the first large-scale retrospective of Alberto Giacometti’s work in Sweden in over twenty years. The exhibition was produced in close collaboration with Fondation Giacometti, Paris.
Curated by Jo Widoff, Moderna Museet, and Christian Alandete, Fondation Giacometti
ABOUT the museum
A museum for the future
Moderna Museet collects, preserves, shares and exhibits modern and contemporary art. It opened in 1958, when modern art from the early 20th century and photography from 1840 and onwards was moved from the Nationalmuseum into a former navy drill hall on Skeppsholmen in Stockholm.
The current building was completed in 1998, adjoining the old museum premises, and is designed by the Spanish architect Rafael Moneo. Moderna Museet also opened in Malmö in 2009.
Our vision is to continue to work in the open and experimental spirit for which Moderna Museet has always been known. The presence of the art and the artists is our key concern, along with our dialogue with an actively participating audience. By developing this interaction, we build a Museum for the future.
A brave museum in a larger world, taking risks in the name of art
Moderna Museet takes risks in the name of art. The Museum is famous for this, and we continue to pursue our activities in this spirit, enabling all artistic disciplines to meet, and confronting contemporary audiences with the best from the past.
An open museum that reconsiders history and engages with contemporary society
Moderna Museet is the obvious meeting place for people who want to see modern and contemporary art in Sweden. Here, they will find internationally famous masterpieces that attract many returning visitors. But it is equally important to offer new impulses to visitors who are curious about what is being created today. The Museum’s collection is a dynamic and growing resource that is shown from new perspectives constantly. New experiences arise in interaction with the temporary exhibitions.
A relevant museum, where encounters with the best art enhances our knowledge about the world and ourselves
The open museum is both a collection of key works and a mobile arena for activities that engage the public and the world beyond the museum walls. With rich programmes of activities and playful events, the audience meets not just the art but the artists themselves. Ultimately, we are concerned with art as an experience for people of all ages, and art as a source of knowledge about the world, and about ourselves.
The Moderna Museet art collection comprises more than 130,000 works in various media. Originally dominated by three categories – Swedish and Nordic art, French-oriented modernism, and American art from the 1950s and 60s – the collection has been extended to include ground-breaking 20th and 21st century women artists and works from a globalised world. With some 100,000 items, Moderna Museet’s photography collection is incomparable.
Only a fraction of the collection can be on display. But it allows us to explore and reformulate the standard art historical narrative through new insights and constant changes in the exhibition. This includes Moderna Museet Malmö, with its innovative angle on selecting and showing works from the collection since opening in 2009.