Alberto Giacometti was a Swiss artist who lived in Paris around the same time as Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali—but he was never as much of a household name. That could soon change, as a new institute opened in Paris this week, shedding light on this much-overlooked artist.
The Giacometti Institute is the first permanent space devoted to the artist, which opened 26 June featuring 350 sculptures, 90 paintings, over 2000 drawings. There is also a reconstruction of the artist’s studio.
It all started a few years ago when Catherine Grenier, the director of the Giacometti Foundation, saw the huge archive of the artist’s work that had amassed since his death in 1966. “It’s a fantastic collection and I want to give people more knowledge about Giacometti, a great artist,” said Grenier. “Paris has so many museums, so we wanted to find another model, an institute with research for scholars. We want to make exhibitions but also a research program not only on Giacometti but on modern art and education.”
The reconstruction of Giacometti’s tiny apartment studio, which was no larger than 24 square meters, is part of the two-floor museum, including the very same walls he sketched and painted on. “Now, we can see the process of creation, this is what we can do that a museum can’t – address a new vision of considering history through the eye of the artist through the personality and emotion, said Grenier, “and with more narration.”
Giacometti was known for his tall and very skinny sculptures of standing figures, and here, some never-seen-before clay, bronze and plaster artworks are on view (they’re too fragile to ship abroad, so only see them in Paris). However, it may be the artist’s time to shine, a retrospective on his work recently opened at the Guggenheim in New York City, and a feature film on his life was also released last month.
The archive has been conserved and organized by the artist’s widow Annette Giacometti and this new institute is in a former art studio built in 1914. It’s just down the street from where the artist lived for over 30 years. It’s far from the tourist crowds in the 14th arrondissement, the Montparnasse neighborhood, which was the core of the cultural zeitgeist in the 1960s. “Giacometti was always in that area, if he wasn’t working in the studio he was at a café, and we wanted something near his old studio,” said Grenier. “It’s like a little time capsule.”