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Giacometti's work in the 1930s is probably the most important contribution to surrealist sculpture. In an effort to explore themes derived from Freudian psychoanalysis, such as sexuality, obsession, and trauma, he developed a variety of different sculptural objects. Some have been influenced by primitive art, but perhaps the most striking are those that resemble games, toys, and architectural models. They almost entice the viewer to physically interact with them, a very radical idea at the time.
In the late 1930s, Giacometti abandoned abstraction and surrealism, becoming more interested in how to represent the human figure in a convincing illusion of real space. He wanted to portray figures in a way that captured a palpable sense of spatial distance, so that we as viewers could share the artist's sense of distance from his model or the encounter that inspired the 'work. The solution he came up with was to reduce the subjects to the thinnest proportions possible.
Giacometti's post-war achievement - finding a language through which to represent the figure in real space - impressed many writers of the time who were interested in phenomenology and existentialism. Both of these philosophies contained ideas about self-awareness and our relationships with other human beings, and Giacometti's art was believed to powerfully capture the tone of melancholy, alienation, and loneliness that these ideas suggested.
Although the 1950s art world in Europe and the United States was dominated by abstract painting, Giacometti's figurative sculpture became a hugely influential model for how the human figure might return to art. . His characters represented human beings alone in the world, withdrawn and unable to communicate with their peers, despite their overwhelming desire to reach out.
Alberto Giacometti's remarkable career traces the changing enthusiasms of European art before and after World War II. As a surrealist in the 1930s, he designed innovative sculptural forms, sometimes reminiscent of toys and games. And as a postwar existentialist, he led the way in creating a style that encapsulated philosophy's interests in perception, alienation, and anxiety. Although his production spans painting and drawing, the Swiss-born, Paris-based artist is best known for his sculpture. And he is perhaps best known for his figurative work, which helped make the motif of the suffering human figure a popular symbol of post-war trauma.
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