So the Tate Modern was my destination in London this last Thursday to see one of the twentieth centuries most innovative artists Alberto Giacometti. Born in 1901, Giacometti was raised in the alpine village in Bregaglia, Switzerland. He grew up surrounded by art as his father Giovanni Giacometti who was a post impressionist painter and took his inspiration from his fathers paintings, art journals and books. My arrival in the capital didn't get off to the best of starts as staff on the Underground pointed me in the totally wrong direction until after 20 minutes of walking I realised something wasn't right, after being given the correct instructions I hopped on the number 63 bus taking me to the right location. I knew this was going to be one of those tourist days, full of adventure and randomness.
Alberto's distinctive paintings and sculptures are on display in ten rooms, each showing the different styles of his work and the different materials he worked in such as plaster, bronze and clay. Showcasing different periods and the influences for his paintings and sculptures.
As you enter one of the galleries, you are instantly presented with 25 human head sculptures on pedestals. Sculptures of those he felt closest to such as family members from his mother, father, brother and friends. Each is individual in shape, texture and size. They have been modelled using different material some are recognisable forms others are abstract with flat and pan shaped faces. The time period of his works, range from his teenage years to pieces from the 1950’s and 1960’s. In the 1920’s he became frustrated with the difficulties of trying to capture the human facial form and began to explore conceptual approaches taking the lead from sculptors such as Constantin Brancusi and Henri Lauren. His work takes more cubist, symmetrical forms with strong lines and African and primitive influences, made in terracotta and plaster. Many of the beautiful sculptures on show remind me of the influence of home accessories and decor that we have in our homes today.
A walk into the cabinet room and there was decorative sculptures such as a beautiful Seagull Object made from polyester resin 1935-7 parallel to these are his note books detailing the stage of each creation, exploring the influence of his practice as a sculptor. There are sketches, books, magazines, journals and brochures on display from shows he exhibited such as The International Surrealist Exhibition, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.
The miniature busts and figures are highly detailed to large human sized sculptures. Spoon Woman 1927 where he explores african utensils, mixed with cubism creates this stunning modern piece made from plaster and Working Woman, looking at these works it is clear he was so ahead of his time with his vision. Strolling through to the next room I am presented with the impressive Women of Venice that stand over a meter tall, with their heavy feet and layered plaster. Eight of the original nine survived having been restored and reunited for the for first the time in nine years. My eyes were captivated by the memorising elongated figures that characterised his post war sculptures that I fell in love with as a child. Being somewhat overwhelmed I stopped taking notes was being lost in his brilliance, soaking up every moment of this visual delight. There was a video of the great man, unfortunately I never got a chance to view it as my feet were very swollen and sore in the heat due to earlier mishap with the wrong directions.
His portraiture oil paintings soothed my pain as they were very dark and muted in tones and I love the technique of the layers and movement he created. As I walked through the exit doors I glanced back and smiled and saw the child that fell in love with Alberto Giacometti all them years ago. The exhibition is on until 10th September, so if you get the chance its well worth the visit!