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Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 10 months ago

Alberto Giacometti

About the connection - if there is - between artist, his work and his birthplace.

Alberto Giacometti is born in the high mountains, in the village of Stampa (behind the seven mountains)..

This valley is so steep, the mountains in north and south so high, that in wintertime the sunlight is not touching the village.

What a day, when sunrays get back for the first time in spring!

The family Giacometti, was rich of artists. Albertos father Giovanni and his uncle Augusto were great swiss painters. Alberto, born with a stupefying talent, worked like Picasso hard to develop and mainly to transform it.

He went to Paris and became a world artist.

Mountain people are normally extremely rooted. His mother Annetta is an example. Son! she used to say when he came home (from out in the world somewhere), what are you doing? Her life was a ritual. His life was always provisional, temporary. In what age did he begin to feel that strangeness inside him? His people

in the mountains spent their life between baking bread, giving birth, baptizing days,working for daily life worrying and dieing, showing as well resignation as devotion, like wounded, mute animals. It had to be.

His daily life in Paris was spent between bistro, brasserie, whorehouse and atelier - where he used to work from late night to dawn. He was a hard smoker and drinker, as far as I know. His life was never a normal life. But what is normal.

He looked at the world with artist eyes. A human face is something, everybody knows, André Breton shouted at him. Giacometti was shocked by this remark. Maybe he had begun to see the silent space around all living beings then?

His sculptures and portraits went smaller and smaller under his hands and menaced to vanish completely. He took decennies to develope from a so called surrealist to what we know him for now.

If we see one of his works, we see archetype, we feel the endless time, even a breathe of eternity.

All his life until his last years Giacometti struggled for money.

Now one of his sculptures is to be seen on the swiss hundred-franks note.

When he died (from asthma and heart disease (breathless!) in 1966, he was buried near his parents in Stampa/Borgonovo were he found his mountains he always wanted to leave.

"I had just experienced in reverse what I had felt some months earlier in front of living beings. At that time I was beginning to see heads in the void, in the space which surrounds them. The first time that I saw the head I was looking at become fixed, immobilized definitively in a moment in time, I shook with terror as never before in my life and a cold sweat ran down my back. What I was looking at was no longer a living head, but an object like any other, no, different, not like any other object, but like something which was alive and dead at the same time."


"But he saw each line as a centripetal force. The face came back on itself, like a loop. Turn around: you won't find an outline, nothing but a middle. The line is the beginning of a negation, the journey from being to nonbeing. But Giacometti believed that the real is pure positiveness: there is being, and then suddenly it is no longer there. But from being to annihilation is not conceivable. Notice how the many strokes he draws are inside the form he depicts; see how they represent the intimate relation of the being with himself, the fold of a jacket, the wrinkle on a face, the projection of a muscle, the direction of a movement. All these lines are centripetal: they seek to contract and compress, they force the eye to follow them, and they lead always to the center of the figure. It is as though the face shrinks, the effect of some astringent substance: in a few minutes it will be only as big as a fist, like a shrunken head of the Jivaro Indians."

(Jean-Paul Sartre)

"Not only do his statues come upon us from very far away, from a remote horizon, but wherever you are in regard to them, they make it seem that you who are looking at them, are below. They are on a remote horizon, elevated, and you are at the bottom of the hill. They come hurrying to meet you and to pass beyond you."

(Jean Genet).

Alberto Giacometti revisited:

Born 10.10 1901 in Stampa/Swizerland. Stampa’s a mountain village in the narrow and steep valley of Bergell, leading from Chiavenna/Italy up to the Maloja and Engadin. House nr.60 has a panel: Alberto Giacometti lived here from 1901-1965. Stampas inhabitants, mainly peasants, are talking an Italian dialect.

For us Giacometti lives in Paris, in his atelier, where everything and human included is covered with white dust from plaster, in cafés and brothels of Montparnasse.

And yet it is known, that all his life his mother Annetta, “la mamma a Stampa”, was his good spirit, his support and his real place.

For us Giacometi lives in the dark, in small unheatable ateliers or walking through night dark and rainy streets of Paris.

Stampa, mountain village, where the sun is not shining the whole winter, with its unfriendly grey houses with their thick walls you could lay down a baby in the windowsill, knows from this darkness.

Jean Genet: “his figures have been made to delight the dead”

Mountains. High. Dead and living in same time.

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