Cv/VAR Archive & Editions
Bust of Annette by Alberto Giacometti 1954
Privare Collection copyright Alberto Giacometti Estate ACS/DACS 2015
Giacometti and Frank Auerbach:
Portraiture and the Pursuit of the Absolute
In this momograph which compares and contrasts the work of these two exceptional artists, Edward Lucie-Smith examines the changed but still vital role of portraiture in the art of our time.
It is particularly interesting that the exhibition of Giacometti at the National Portrait Gallery focuses on Giacometti activity as a portraitist, in both painting and sculpture. It coincides with a major retrospective exhibition at Tate Britain of paintings by Frank Auerbach. Though Auerbach has tackled a range of other subjects, urban landscapes, interiors and nudes, he is perhaps best known for his intensely studied images of people who are in one way or another close to him. ELS
ISBN: 9781910110317 Cv/VAR series 212
Format: paper, 210 x 148mm, 50pp, ill.
Extract from monograph
In many ways, the reaction of both Giacometti and Frank Auerbach towards this evolution of thought, and the attitudes towards human personality and its interpretation that went with it, seems to be a contrarian one.
Giacomettis art, in particular, is often aligned with the Existentialist philosophy that was so influential in the French intellectual circles of his time. Jean-Paul Sartre wrote two influential essays about his work. The first, entitled The Quest for the Absolute, appeared in the catalogue for Giacomettis first solo exhibition in New York, held at the Pierre Matisse Gallery in 1948. The second, called simply The Paintings of Giacometti, was published in the catalogue for Giacomettis 1954 show at the Galerie Maeght in Paris.
Sartre saw Giacometti as an artist who, in terms of the human representations he made, was starting again from zero that is, starting totally without preconceptions of any kind about what the human being he was regarding either looked like or should look like. Or, indeed, about the inner nature of the subject concerned. Giacometti, according to Sartre, was always mediating between nothingness and being. His aim was to give perceptible expression to pure presence.The title given to the current NPG exhibition follows the Existentialist party line exactly. It is called Giacometti: Pure Presence.
London March 2015
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