Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966) was a Swiss sculptor, painter, draftsman, and printmaker known primarily for his elongated, spindly sculptures of the human figure. His unique artistic style and significant contribution to the Surrealist and Existentialist movements have solidified his reputation as one of the most prominent sculptors of the 20th century.
Born on October 10, 1901, in Borgonovo, Switzerland, Giacometti was introduced to art early on, primarily through his father, Giovanni Giacometti, who was a Post-Impressionist painter. He went on to study fine arts in Geneva and Paris, moving permanently to the latter in 1922.
In the early years of his career, Giacometti was associated with the Surrealist movement (1930-1935). However, his focus shifted dramatically during and after World War II, when he began creating the thin, elongated human figures that he is most famous for. These figures, according to many critics, echoed the post-war sentiment of existential crisis and alienation.
One of Giacometti's most renowned sculptures, "L'Homme qui marche I" (Walking Man I), made in 1960, was sold at Sotheby's auction house in London for £65 million (around $104.3 million) in 2010, setting a record at the time for the highest price ever paid for a work of art at auction.
Giacometti passed away on January 11, 1966, in Chur, Switzerland. Despite his death, his influence continues to resonate in the art world. In 2001, the Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti was established in Paris to preserve his legacy and promote his work.
Facts about Giacometti's career include:
- Throughout his career, Giacometti created more than 200 sculptures along with countless paintings and drawings.
- He represented France at the Venice Biennale in 1956, a high honor in the art world, where he was awarded the grand prize for sculpture.
- The Alberto Giacometti Foundation in Paris houses more than 5,000 works by the artist, including sculptures, paintings, drawings, and prints.
- A bronze cast of Giacometti's "Chariot" (1950) sold for $100.9 million in 2014 at a Sotheby's auction, becoming one of the most expensive sculptures ever sold.
His works are included in many of the world's most prestigious museums, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Modern in London, and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.