Traveling Giacometti exhibit coming to Nelson-Atkins in 2023

Alberto Giacometti: Toward the Ultimate Figure, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, March 18 – June 18, 2023, www.nelson-atkins.org

“Walking Man I” (1960), a bronze sculpture, 180.5×27×97 cm., by Alberto Giacometti (Swiss, 1901–1966), is part of the exhibit, “Alberto Giacometti: Toward the Ultimate Figure.” (Fondation Giacometti, © Succession Albertogiacometti / ADAGP, Paris, 2022)

If you happen to be visiting the Seattle Art Museum before Oct. 9, 2022, you will have a chance to preview “Alberto Giacometti: Toward the Ultimate Figure” before it lands at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in March 2023. Organized jointly by the Cleveland Art Museum and the Fondacion Giacometti in Paris, the exhibit of selected paintings, busts, statuettes, sketches and prints focuses on the artist’s postwar work (1945-1966) and his explorations of the human figure as he struggled with basic questions surrounding modernism and the creation of art. In addition to the work by Giacometti, another perspective is offered by the numerous photographers who captured him at work in his studio: Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Gordon Parks, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Doisneau.

Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966) is considered one of the most important artists of the 20th century, known primarily for his sculpture. Giacometti’s father, Giovanni, was an Impressionist painter, and while growing up in Switzerland, Alberto spent much of his time in his father’s studio. He was briefly allied with the Surrealists after moving to Paris, but after World War II, he moved in an entirely different direction, creating elongated and emaciated figures which convey a sense of isolation and alienation, as well a connection to existentialism, a philosophy which he embraced. Giacometti emphasized the relationship between the figure and space but rejected its traditional rendering. With their rough-hewn surfaces, his figures lack any emotion or expression, leaving their interpretation up to their viewers. Giacometti explained that for him, “The object of art is not to reproduce reality but to create a reality of the same intensity.”

Since his death in 1966, there have been relatively few large exhibitions of his work. “Toward the Ultimate Figure” will offer a unique opportunity to view Giacometti’s work and to reconsider it along with the artist’s process.

Nan Chisholm

Nan Chisholm is an art consultant and appraiser of 19th- and 20th-century paintings. After a long association with Sotheby’s, she founded her own business in 2003. She has appeared as a fine art appraiser on “Antiques Roadshow” since its inception in 1995.

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