Giacometti Exhibition

The recent exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery concentrated on Giacometti’s portraiture in sculpture,  paintings and drawings. Whilst his sculptural style of thin, long bodies with heads balanced like flowers on a stalk, I felt that his drawings were (as so often) the most interesting in offering insights into his way of seeing.

giacometti (4 of 6)

Diego 1945, A5 sketchbook

The face and the gaze seems to have been a central interest from early in his career, . He painted and drew his family repeatedly, especially his brother Diego and it is interesting to see the development of his style through the exploration of the same subject. He rarely drew people in a context but focused in on the face. He was “pursued by visions of heads suspended in the void,” (Foundation, no date). In his mature works, the face becomes all, with clothes and torso suggested by a minimum of broad brush strokes. The faces are almost carved out by heavy and repeated marks and build on a scaffolding of lines. The images combine line with flat areas of tone in earth colours or monotone.

This later painting of Diego from the Tate collection shows his very limited palette and different treatment of the face verses the torso and background. AT times it feels as though he is drawing a face as if it were a piece of architecture, examining the converging lines, angles and perspective.

giacometti (5 of 6)

Self portrait, pen, A5 sketchbook

giacometti (2 of 6)

Sketch of Portrait of Annette, 1954

In his drawings and paintings, he obliterates and restates in layers of paint and line. When he originally worked as a sculptor, he worked and reworked his pieces so that they got smaller and smaller (Alley, 1981). After he married, they became bigger but elongated with distorted proportions.

Sketch, Woman of Venice 1958

Sketch, Woman of Venice 1958

I have drawn this sculpture far to wide, the original can be seen here.

In this sculpture he has brutally exaggerated the features.

giacometti (6 of 6)

Chiavenna Bust I

Seeing these portrait works together was really informative and I felt that by drawing them, I gained a much greater understanding of each piece but also of the artists own thinking and approach.


Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery’s Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.274-5




About starrybird

I am mature student studying art with The Open College of the Arts. My passion is printmaking.
This entry was posted in Course Parts, Part 5 Developing Sculpture and Imagination, Study Visits and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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