All the sculptures of today, like those of the past, will end one day in pieces. . . . So it is important to fashion one’s work carefully in its smallest recess and charge every particle of matter with life.
Photography gives you the opportunity to use your sensibility and everything you are to say something about and be part of the world around you. . . . You might discover something much larger than yourself.
Gagosian is pleased to present an exhibition of sculptures by Alberto Giacometti, together with photographs by Peter Lindbergh. In 2016, Lindbergh was invited to photograph bronzes and plasters by Giacometti held in the collection of the Kunsthaus Zürich—the largest and most important collection of Giacometti works in a museum—including 150 sculptures, as well as key paintings and drawings.
Giacometti’s work presents an unprecedented visual discourse on the figure and its relation to space. His highly distinctive entities, molded in plaster or cast in bronze, charge the spatial voids that surround them. Exemplified by the cast bronze Diane Bataille (1947), Giacometti’s oeuvre is at once conceptual and emotional, anonymous and specific, archaic and modern. In his attenuated, elegiac figures—here spanning the period from 1919 through 1965—a sense of mortality clashes with vivid embodiment, figuration becomes existential, and a suffocating compression opens onto both urgency and contemplation. In Femme assise (1956), the folded arms and mottled head of a female figure seem to signify forbearance and resignation, the form as gestural as it is abstract. Often considered as testimony to the ravages of postwar Europe, Giacometti’s art has a timeless, perpetual quality, even as it continues to inflect art historical narratives.
The impulse to photograph sculpture harks back to the mid-nineteenth century, with the advent of photography itself. Since then, the two mediums—ancient and modern—have become deeply enmeshed. Photography has become part of sculpture itself; sculptors such as Auguste Rodin, Constantin Brancusi, and Medardo Rosso, for example, used it as a developmental tool for their work, producing images that created dramatic new interplays of light and perspective. From a fixed viewpoint, the camera lens directs, freezes, and manipulates the appearance of three-dimensional objects. In turn, sculpture, being a static object, was used as a means by which to discover how timed photographic exposure could reveal its subject differently.
In their stark, tenebrous realism, Lindbergh’s potent black-and-white photographs assiduously capture the mood and texture of Giacometti’s sculptures. In images of single sculptures and assembled groups, Lindbergh positions Giacometti’s works as both subject and object. The photograph Buste (Tête tranchante) (2016) echoes both early pictorial photography and portraiture, while Group of Nine (2016) suggests an almost scenographic narrative. Both documentary records and autonomous works of art, Lindbergh’s photographs provide fresh perspectives on a titan of twentieth-century art. Shown in the company of the subjects that they depict, the photographs engage with Giacometti’s sculptures in ways that are both critical and celebratory.
Peter Lindbergh on Alberto Giacometti
Peter Lindbergh discusses photography and the history of his practice with Catherine Grenier, Director of Fondation Giacometti. An accompanying video captures Lindbergh describing the powerful experience he had while photographing sculptures by Alberto Giacometti.
Substance and Shadow
Alberto Giacometti’s iconic sculptures have become the focus of Peter Lindbergh’s photographic gaze. An exhibition at Gagosian London brings together the sculptures and the photographs.
Wyatt Allgeier pays homage to the renowned gallerist and artist Betty Parsons (1900–1982).
Alberto Giacometti and Yves Klein: Interview with Joachim Pissarro
Joachim Pissarro, the curator of Alberto Giacometti Yves Klein: In Search of the Absolute discusses with Gagosian’s Alison McDonald the works and themes that will be presented in this exhibition.
Extended through November 19, 2016
From Modigliani to Currin
September 20–November 19, 2016
980 Madison Avenue, New York