Alberto Giacometti

Alberto Giacometti

Swiss, b. 1901 - d. 1966

Place of Birth: Borgonovo, Switzerland

Place of Death: Chur, Switzerland

Specialities: Modern Art


Alberto Giacometti


Born: October 10, 1901/ Borgonovo, Switzerland

Died: January 11, 1966/Chur, Switzerland

Alberto Giacometti was a Swiss sculptor, painter, and draughtsman. As the son of the post-Impressionist painter Giovanni Giacometti and godson of Cuno Amiet, Alberto grew up around artists and began painting and sculpting while still fairly young.

Early Life

Alberto was born in Borgonovo, a village close to the Swiss-Italian border and raised in the Val Bregaglia Alpine Valley. He was educated in Geneva and Italy and later in Paris. His brothers Diego and Bruno also grew up to become artists. Raised in an artistic atmosphere, Alberto created his first bust in 1914–15 and oil painting in 1915.


Giacometti moved to Paris in 1922 to study under the sculptor Antoine Bourdelle at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere. He was also influenced by the art of Jacques Lipchitz and Fernand Leger, as can be seen from his early nudes and Cubist sculptures. By the mid-1920s, Giacometti had developed an interest in African art, which had become popular in Europe through the work of artists like Pablo Picasso and Andre Derain. The young artist first made a mark with the works “Spoon Woman” and “The Couple,” shown in Paris at the Salon de Tuileries in 1927. It was in the same year that he had his first solo exhibition at the Galerie Aktuaryus in Zurich. Non-western art had a deep influence on him and following these early successes, Giacometti began experimenting with creating flat heads and female figures, bringing him to the attention of the Pierre Loeb Gallery, known for promoting the Surrealists.


In 1931, Giacometti became an active member of Andre Bretton’s group and the Surrealist movement. Surrealist techniques, including dreamlike visions and magical treatment of objects and figures remained an important part of his work even after he was expelled from the group in 1935, in spite of being one of its more prominent and gifted artists. “The Walking Woman,” a sculpture made in 1932 was included in the Surrealist exhibition of 1936 in London.

Areas of Interest

Of Giacometti’s impressive body of work, the two major areas of interest that stand out are his investigations into the nature of the human head and his substantial work on utilitarian objects from ancient and primitive societies. In the second category, Giacometti contributed to the art of sculpture the idea of “mobile and mute objects.” He also began making utilitarian objects like wall light, lamps, and vases, which were sold by the interior designer Jean-Michel Frank. Giacometti and Frank collaborated over many years on projects in Europe and even as far as Buenos Aires.

However, it was his concern with the head that lay at the center of his artistic search. While for most this was a common subject, Giacometti felt compelled to study the head and particularly eyes as the core of human life. He began working on the subject regularly from the early 1930s and among the models for his studies were his brother Diego, friend Isabel Delmer, and Rita Gueyfier, a professional model.

Giacometti’s encounters with the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre and his Japanese translator, the philosopher Isaku Yanaihara were significant and led the former to publish two significant essays on the artist’s work. He preferred to use the people around him as models, particularly his wife Annette and brother Diego. He eschewed classical perspective and depicted his models as he saw them — at times fragmented and deformed but always changing.

Having made his first prints in the company of his father, Giacometti continued to experiment with the medium using wood, engraving, lithography, aquatint, and etching. He illustrated a number of books and was friends with many writers and poets. He began making his signature figures, tall and thin, from 1947 onwards. Giacometti won numerous awards, including at the Pittsburgh International (1961), Venice Biennale (1962), as well as the Guggenheim International Award for Painting (1964).

Giacometti died on January 11, 1966 in Chur. He was suffering from heart disease and chronic bronchitis. Around 5,000 of his works are held at the Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti based in Paris.

Quick Facts

Born: October 10, 1901

Place of Birth: Borgonovo, Switzerland

Known For: Sculpting, Painting, Printmaking

Movement: Surrealism, Expressionism, Cubism

Works Exhibited At: Berggruen Museum, Berlin; Bunder Kunstmuseum, Chur; Tate, London; Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, Tehran; Kunsthaus, Zurich

Died: January 11, 1966



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 Buste II by Alberto Giacometti

Alberto Giacometti

Buste II

Winterberg Kunst, Heidelberg

November 8, 2014


 T?te Et Sculpture (Recto); Etude (Verso) by Alberto Giacometti

Alberto Giacometti

T?te Et Sculpture (Recto); Etude (Verso)

Christie's, New York

November 6, 2014

$43,750  USD

 Femme Debout No 7 by Alberto Giacometti

Alberto Giacometti

Femme Debout No 7

Christie's, New York

November 6, 2014

$461,000  USD

 Femme (Nu Debout IV) by Alberto Giacometti

Alberto Giacometti

Femme (Nu Debout IV)

Christie's, New York

November 6, 2014

$317,000  USD

 St?le III by Alberto Giacometti

Alberto Giacometti

St?le III

Christie's, New York

November 5, 2014

$9,909,000  USD

 Buste D'homme Sur Socle by Alberto Giacometti

Alberto Giacometti

Buste D'homme Sur Socle

Sotheby's, New York

November 5, 2014

$821,000  USD

Artworks for sale

Alberto Giacometti


Galerie Elizabeth Royer


Manet Steals the Show at Christie's

By Judd Tully | November 6, 2014

An Impressionist-era painting by Edouard Manet starred in an otherwise modest Impressionist and Modern evening sale on Wednesday that tallied $165,635,000.The Manet's higher-than-expected...

Sotheby’s Evening Sale — The Chariot of Fire

By Judd Tully | November 5, 2014

Turbo-charged by two 20th-century sculpture masterworks, Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern evening sale racked up a record $422,110,000, the firm’s highest tally in its long history.That said,...

On the Block: What to Look for at Auction in November

By Judd Tully,Art+Auction | November 3, 2014

With the global art market continuing to perform like a race-proven thoroughbred, this season offers a number of blue-chip trophy contenders, led by a fabulous, rare-to-market Alberto Giacometti...

Schiaparelli's Collection at Christie's

By Michelle Tay | December 3, 2013

January is shaping up to be a big month for Elsa Schiaparelli, as her historic namesake brand gears up to present its first ready-to-wear and couture collections by newly-installed creative...

Olivier Kaeppelin to Head 2014 Busan Biennale

By Ines Min | December 2, 2013

Olivier Kaeppelin, French art critic and director of Fondation Maeght in Saint-Paul de Vence, was belatedly announced the director of next year’s Busan Biennale on November 29.His...

Billion-Dollar Question: Can Contemporary Art Keep Climbing?

By Eileen Kinsella | November 20, 2013

Words like “surreal” and “dizzying” were used a lot over the last couple of weeks to describe the atmosphere at major fall auctions of Impressionist, modern and especially contemporary art at...

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Sotheby’s New York Impressionist & Modern Art

By Regina Mogilevskaya | November 4, 2014


Alberto Giacometti and On Kowara

Nov 6 - Dec 20, 2014

Yoshii Gallery, New York

Dada & Surrealist Objects

Oct 24, 2013 - Jan 17, 2014

Blain di Donna LLC, New York

Giacometti and a selection of contemporary...

Jan 26 - Feb 17, 2013

Norte Maar, Brooklyn

The Age of Picasso and Matisse: Modern Masters...

Oct 6, 2013 - Feb 16, 2014

Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth

Alberto Giacometti Retrospective

Oct 17, 2011 - Feb 5, 2012

Museo Picasso Malaga, Malaga

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