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Inspired by Alberto Giacometti

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Giacometti vs Basquiat, Shem

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Inspired by Alberto Giacometti

Alberto Giacometti is one of the most important artists of the 20th century and his sculptures of thin, solitary figures are easily recognizable. Even though he is best known for his work as a sculptor, he was also a painter and draftsman. Let's have a look back at his varied and successful career.

Giacometti was born in 1901 in Switzerland. He began his studies at the school of Fine Arts in Geneva. In the 1920s he left Switzerland to settle in Paris and join the studio of the sculptor Antoine Bourdelle at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Montparnasse. The young artist made many important artistic artistic discoveries in the French city. He was particularly fascinated by Cubism, African art and ancient sculpture. He created  important surrealist work with a series of dream inspired plaster sculptures. Giacometti exhibited alongside Joan Miro and Jean Arp and officially joined the surrealist group in 1931. This lasted only four years. Giacometti, still in search of his artistic identity, abandoned surrealism and the themes of death and uncertainty in order to create more figurative work with a series of heads.

It was from 1947 onwards that Giacometti began to truly define his own original style that would go on to be so instantly recognizable. He sculpts bronze figures with thin, elongated limbs, often placed in cages or on pedestals. These bodies reduced to their very core might be seen as evoking lone trees in winter that have lost their foliage. Giacometti's sculptures represent a very individualistic and isolated worldview. In 1948, Giacometti met the art dealer Pierre Matisse, the grandson of Henri Matisse, and the two men enjoy a very fruitful and productive working relationship. Matisse organizes the artist's first solo exhibition in New York.

For most of the rest of his career, Giacometti then tended to focus on only three themes: the walking man, the naked standing woman and busts. His sculptures seem to be primarily figurative, but for Giacometti emotion played a huge role in his creative process. His works represented his models as he thought they should be seen.

Towards the end of his life, Giacometti's genius was recognised through numerous awards: the Carnegie Prize in 1961, the sculpture prize at the Venice Biennale in 1962, the Guggenheim Prize in 1964 and in 1965 the International Prize for the Arts in France. Today Giacometti's works are known throughout the world and have been exhibited in the most prestigious museums: the Museum of Modern Art in Paris, the Pompidou Center, the Tate Modern, the MoMA in New York among others.

Given his brilliant career and creativity, it is not surprising that the Giacometti continues to influence today's artists. Explore our selection of works by emerging and renowned contemporary artists and painters who have drawn inspiration from Giacometti's artwork.

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