It’s impossible not to be captivated by Giacometti. One of the great painter-sculptors of the 20th Century, he was a restless innovator who experimented with a range of styles, historical sources and materials, whilst honing his unique artistic vision. This Tate Modern exhibition is the first large scale retrospective of his work in the UK for 20 years, and I went along on bank holiday Monday.
Spread through 10 rooms, the show traces Giacometti’s career and demonstrates his fascination with different materials and textures such as plaster, clay and paint, bronze figures and paintings, plaster, sculptures, decorative objects, and drawings that have never been seen before. Beautifully curated, the route captures his artistic progression from the early influences of cubism, surrealism, and Egyptian art to his iconic post war sculptures, all with a sense of spontaneous creative process. There are moments of real elation: ‘I have made sculptures that can move!…’ followed by the eldritch chill of the works he created on his return to Paris in 1945. He said of these “I wanted to hold onto a certain height, and they became narrow… the more I wanted to make them broader, the narrower they got.” The attenuated form and elongated figures were interpreted as embodying isolation and anxiety – a powerful image of humanity in which a generation traumatised by the war recognised itself.
Highly recommended – on now until the 10th of September 2017 with talks, clay workshops, and special viewings detailed below.