SHADOW AND SUBSTANCE
Gagosian Gallery, Britannia Street, London, United Kingdom © Succession Alberto Giacometti (Fondation Giacometti + ADAGP) Paris
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 Zurich—the largest and most important collection of Giacometti works in a museum, including one hundred and fifty sculptures, as well as key paintings and drawings.
>"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." — Alberto Giacometti
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 1919-65 —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.
>"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." — Peter Lindbergh
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) has echoes of early pictorial photography as well as 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, each photograph engages with Giacometti's sculptures in ways that are both critical and celebratory.