Giacometti: Pure Presence opens at the National Portrait Gallery tomorrow 15th October.
Giacometti, one of the most significant artists of the twentieth century, is known primarily for his stick like sculpture but he was a portrait painter too. Nine rooms are devoted to his work. The exhibition depicts the artist’s on-going attempt to capture a fleeting impression. “Sometimes I think I can catch an appearance, then I lose it and so I have to start all over again” he is quoted as saying.
The exhibition starts with photographs of his Swiss childhood, and follows his career to Paris, where sets up his studio. A film shows him in his Paris studio. His portraiture is unconventional, an interrogation of his own visual seeing. From the outset he experienced difficulties of copying exactly … appearance, concerned with the problems of structure and form he experimented with various styles, gravitating to the Surrealist group. His work is his attempt to be faithful to his visual experiences.
The exhibition is the first to focus exclusively on Giacometti’s engagement with the human figure and the creation of an individual human prsence based on particular models. Rooms are defined by their subject with one devoted to Annette his wife who eventually becomes his main model; another to his mother while another to his brother Diego who came to live with them and assisted in the organisation of the sculptures as well as making bronze furniture for which he later became famous. The last two rooms, one mimicking the daylight in his studio and the other his studio at night are where there are paintings of Caroline the prostitute that he met in his later years.
Giacometti was constantly pursuing and capturing the sensation of the moment, the constantly changing experience of seeing people, as well as the flux of visual experience. In 1948 following his first one-man show in New York in 1948 his reputation expanded internationally. In 1954 he was described as the artist of existentialism.
The exhibition runs until 10 January 2016.
Throughout the exhibition there are events are taking place relating to the exhibition
National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place, London WC2 OHE.
Mon. Tues. Wed. Sat. Sun 10.00 – 18.00 late opening 10.00 – 21.00 thurs. Fri.
T. 020 7306 0055 www.npg.org.uk