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Alberto Giacometti

Already at a young age Alberto Giacometti (1901-66) was encouraged to choose an artistic career by his father, Giovanni Giacometti, who was a recognised painter in Switzerland at the turn of the 20th century. At the age of 18 Alberto attended the School of Fine Arts in Geneva for a short while, but he dropped out to travel to Italy with his father.
 
In 1923 Giacometti moved to Paris. The following two years he was a trainee with the sculptor Antoine Bourelle, in whose studio he has worked. In 1925 he created sculptures of his own for the first time. Inspired by cubist and African sculptures, he worked with simplification and abstraction.
 
In the late 1920s and early 1930s Giacometti’s sculptures became increasingly more abstract, sexually aggressive and primitive under the impact of surrealism. In the mid 1930s he returned to a more recognisable rendering of the human body. 
 
In his mature sculptures Giacometti did not only endeavour to render the human figure. His sculptures were also meant to depict the experience of physical and psychological distance that separated him from other people. Therefore, the figures became distant, anonymous shapes without individual features. The sculptures do not portray specific persons, but depict man as pure being or an idea.   
 
Also, Giacometti was a brilliant painter and graphic artist. In his chief graphic work ”Paris sans fin” made between 1958 and 1965 he has used a sequence of seemingly light and fragmentary sketches to capture his impression of the city of cities in which he lived most of his life. The sequence can be viewed as a description of a day in the artist’s life – from late breakfast at a sidewalk café, and work in his studio, through to taking part in the hectic night life. ”Paris sans fin” consists of 150 lithographs. Holstebro Kunstmuseum owns all of the prints, but only a selection of them is on display.
 
Giacometti was one of the most significant artists of the 20th century, and his work is inextricably bound up with the modern human being and his perception of himself and his position in the world. He is one of the artists who have truly influenced 20th century art. Moreover, Giacometti had a special influence on Danish art. When the sculptor Sonja Ferlov moved to Paris in 1936, she established her studio near that of Giacometti. Through him she introduced Ejler Bille and Richard Mortensen, among others, to the Parisian art scene. As a result, several of the significant international artists of the day exhibited their works in Copenhagen in the late 1930s.
 
One of Giacometti’s major works – ”Woman with Chariot” (1942) is to bee seen in front of Holstebro’s old town hall on the pedestrian street. The sculpture was put up in 1966. Besides, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in North Zealand owns a considerable collection of the artist’s sculptures.
Alberto Giacometti. Photo: Cartier Bresson, Fair use rationale