Public Opening of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 10/25/1959
Public Opening of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 10/25/1959 tutto

The typeface applied to the title of the
exhibition and its accompanying
catalogue, Giacometti, was developed
by the Geneva graphic design studio
Gavillet & Cie with type designer Franรงois
Rappo and based on the typeface used
in Herbert Matterโ€™s 1987 book of
photographs of Alberto Giacomettiโ€™s
studio. Matter (1907โ€“1984), a Swiss-born
photographer and graphic designer, has
an early association with the Solomon R.
Guggenheim Museum. From the 1950s
to the 1960s, he worked closely with the
museum on designs for all of its printed
material: invitations, posters, and
especially catalogues.

The typeface applied to the title of the
exhibition and its accompanying
catalogue, Giacometti, was developed
by the Geneva graphic design studio
Gavillet & Cie with type designer Franรงois
Rappo and based on the typeface used
in Herbert Matterโ€™s 1987 book of
photographs of Alberto Giacomettiโ€™s
studio. Matter (1907โ€“1984), a Swiss-born
photographer and graphic designer, has
an early association with the Solomon R.
Guggenheim Museum. From the 1950s
to the 1960s, he worked closely with the
museum on designs for all of its printed
material: invitations, posters, and
especially catalogues.

acometti met Annette Arm (1923โ€“1993)
in Geneva during World War II, and in
1946 she moved into his Paris studio.
The couple married three years later, and
until Giacomettiโ€™s death in 1966, she
posed for him daily. Black Annette dates
from a period when Giacometti had
largely reduced his chromatic range to
shades of gray, producing a series of
enigmatic paintings that contrast
significantly with the vibrant colors of
his early postwar work. Here Annetteโ€™s
outline is drawn in black, then colored in
with gray, and finally reworked with white
touches. Giacomettiโ€™s portraits, either
painted or sculpted, are the translation
of the sitter as an implacable otherness
that can never be grasped in its entirety.
Expressionless portraits, such as this
strictly frontal work with wide eyes gazing
straight ahead, are the receptacle of the
spectatorโ€™s scrutiny. Giacometti declared:
โ€œI cannot simultaneously see the eyes,
the hands, and the feet of a person
standing two or three yards in front of me,
but the only part that I do look at entails
a sensation of the existence of everything.โ€

โ€œI am very interested in art but I am instinctively more interested in truth. . . .
The more I work, the more I see differently.โ€
A preeminent artist of the twentieth century, Alberto Giacometti (1901โ€“1966)
investigated the human figure for more than forty years. This comprehensive
exhibition, a collaboration with the Fondation Giacometti in Paris, examines anew
the artistโ€™s practice and the unmistakable aesthetic vocabulary he developed
through his experiments in painting, sculpture, and drawing.
Giacometti was born in the Swiss village of Borgonovo. His father, Giovanni,
a recognized Post-Impressionist painter, introduced him to painting and sculpture
at a young age. Giacometti moved to Paris in 1922 and eventually settled in a 15-by-
16-foot studio in the artistsโ€™ quarter of Montparnasse. He produced the greater
part of his oeuvre in this tiny space, which he maintained until the end of his life.
Giacomettiโ€™s brother Diego, also an artist, became his assistant; he and Annette Arm,
whom Giacometti wed in 1949, were the artistโ€™s most frequently rendered models.
During his early years in Paris, Giacometti pursued a deep interest in Cubism and a
fascination with the unconscious and dream imagery that led to his association with
the Surrealists. African, Cycladic, Egyptian, and Oceanic art captured his attention
as well, influencing the formal development of his figures. In the late 1930s he began
sculpting pocket-size heads and figures in which he explored perspective and
distance; these spatial concerns would remain paramount throughout his career.
Giacometti may be best known, however, for the painted portraits and distinctive
sculptures that he created in the late 1940s. These innovative works, including
a series of elongated standing women, striding men, and expressive busts,
resonated strongly with a public grappling with the extreme alienation and
anxiety wrought by the devastation of World War II. Giacometti was unflinching
in his portrayal of humanity at its most vulnerable.
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation has a long history with
Giacometti. In 1955 the artistโ€™s first museum show was presented in New York at
the institutionโ€™s temporary quarters on Fifth Avenue. Noting divergent opinions on
Giacomettiโ€™s art at that moment, one critic recognized the director James Johnson
Sweeney for continuing โ€œhis program at the Guggenheim Museum of bringing
forward the most controversial work of the time.โ€ In 1974 the Guggenheim mounted
a posthumous retrospective in its Frank Lloyd Wrightโ€“designed rotunda. The present
exhibition, featuring major works in bronze and in oil, as well as plaster sculptures
and drawings never before seen in this country, aims to provide a deeper
understanding of this artist, whose intensive focus on the human condition
continues to provoke and inspire new generations.
Organized by Megan Fontanella, Curator, Modern Art and Provenance, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and
Catherine Grenier, Director, Fondation Giacometti, Paris; with support from Mathilde Lecuyer-Maillรฉ, Associate Curator,
Fondation Giacometti, and Samantha Small, Curatorial Assistant, Guggenheim Museum.