Giacometti lithographs show artist’s range

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Giacometti lithographs show artist’s range

It was later in his artistic career that Alberto Giacometti, one of the leading sculptors of the 20th century, turned to lithography and etching.
Giacometti concentrated on producing two-dimensional works during his transition period between 1935 and 1945, when the artist seemed to search for new forms of visual expression.
His range of subject matter grew wider when he produced prints in his later years, some of which will be on display in Seoul next week. If his sculptures embodied an existential solitude and the angst of being human, his prints and drawings focused on lighter subjects like still lifes of everyday objects, street scenes of Paris, rooms and landscapes that almost seem romantic at times.
Perhaps the artist’s use of printing techniques might have reflected his continuing experimentation with different working methods, evident in earlier sculptures, marked with thumbprints and rough knife cuts.
Giacometti was born in an Italian-speaking part of Switzerland to a father who was a well-known Post-Impressionist painter. He joined a Surrealist group as a young man, establishing his reputation as one of the movement’s leading members. But in 1935 he left the group, destroying many of his works. He then started playing around with some of the key concepts of sculpture such as the reduction of volume, density and scale.
The artist’s experimentation with these formal aspects was also due to his conceptual transformation, which was heavily influenced by the ideas of the Existentialist movement led by French philosophers such as Jean-Paul Sartre, who was a close friend of Giacometti.
The artist produced his trademark thin, elongated sculptures during this period, conveying his conviction that humanity was evolving into greater isolation.
Some of his black and white lithographs like “Tree” and “The Street” were commissioned by Verve, a renowned Paris publication that contained an original print in every issue, including works by Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse and Andre Masson.
Considering the depth of the subjects conveyed in his works, however, Giacometti always attracted a stylish clientele, surrounded by artistic celebrities like Pablo Picasso and Simone de Beauvoir.
The exhibition at Juliana Gallery is the first exhibit in Korea that showcases the artist’s works. It brings together 15 pieces and original lithographs. A majority are preliminary sketches that led to sculptural work, though others, like the “Rue d’Aleisa,” are exceptions that exist as independent lithographic masterpieces done in his painterly, heavy brush manner. Indeed, most of Giacometti’s lithographs are close to his paintings and drawings in theme and execution.


by Park Soo-mee

The exhibition of original lithographs by Alberto Giacometti will appear at Juliana Gallery in Cheongdam-dong from Feb. 14 through March 16. For more information, call 02-514-4266.

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