There are only a few artists of the last century whose works are more recognisable than those of Alberto Giacometti. A celebrated group of plaster sculptures will be brought together for the first time since they were made in 1956 for the Tate Modern’s major Giacometti retrospective, which opened on Wednesday in London.
All six ‘Women of Venice’ plaster works created for the 1956 Venice Biennale will be reunited for the first time in 60 years. They will be shown alongside two further plaster sculptures from this series, which Giacometti unveiled at the Kunsthalle Bern that same year. The works have been specially restored and reassembled for the Tate Modernexternal link’s exhibition by the Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti, Paris. It will offer a unique opportunity to see this important group of fragile works as the artist originally intended.
Bronze figures are what first comes to mind when many people think of Giacometti. They are what he is most famous for, after all. The exhibition wants to try and reposition him, showing off his interest in a much broader range of materials, such as plaster, clay and paint. Over the course of about three weeks, Giacometti moulded each of the ‘Women of Venice’ in clay before casting them in plaster and reworking them with a knife to further accentuate their surface.
The influence that Giacometti’s personal relationships had on his work is another factor that has been included in the Tate Modern’s exhibition. It looks at the most important: his wife Annette Giacometti, his brother Diego and his late mistress Caroline, and how they affected what he created. The artist often used friends and family as models, and one room focuses specifically on portraits of Diego and Annette, with the purpose of highlighting how closely Giacometti observed human faces and figures.
All artworks © Alberto Giacometti Estate, ACS/DACS, 2017