Why Alberto Giacometti’s art is so successful

Sculptor, painter, draughtsman and printmaker. Alberto Giacometti is the most commercially successful Swiss artist of all time. (SRF/

This content was published on November 16, 2014 - 11:00

$101 million (CHF 97.48 million) was recently paid at a Sotheby’s auction for his sculpture, “The Chariot” from 1950. In 2013, “Bust of Diego” from 1955 sold for $50 million (CHF 48.3 million) at Sotheby’s. The bust of his brother is considered one of his best works. In 2010, the spindly bronze “Walking Man” from 1960 sold for $104.3 million (CHF 100 million) at Sotheby’s, setting a record price for a work of art at auction.

Giacometti was born in Bergell in canton Graubünden, to which he frequently returned. His father, Giovanni, was a well-known post-impressionist painter.

As a surrealist in the 1930s, Alberto devised innovative sculptural forms, sometimes reminiscent of toys and games. After the war, he created a style that epitomised the existentialists’ interest in perception, alienation and anxiety.

His figurative work helped to make the motif of the suffering human figure a popular symbol of post-war trauma.

The Kunsthaus in Zurich boasts a large collection of his works, owned by the Alberto Giacometti FoundationExternal link. Many of these were presented by the artist himself before his death in 1966.

A visitors’ centre, ‘Centro Giacometti’, is due to be opened in Bergell in 2016, which will pay tribute to the artistic family. 

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