The National Portrait Gallery in London is overjoyed to be presenting a major exhibition surrounding the life and career of Alberto Giacometti, an artist recognized for his fascination with the artistic complexities of evoking a human presence.
October 15 marked the opening of a widely anticipated exhibition of Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966) at the National Portrait Gallery in London. The exhibition surrounds the life and career of one of the giants of Modernism. Indeed, the stature of Giacometti and the influence he exercised on artists of the 20th century may be compared only to Picasso, Chagall, and Matisse. To be sure, the sculptures by Giacometti define well the time in which they were created, which included World War I, World War II, and the Great Depression.
“Giacometti: Pure Presence” is not just an exhibition that presents the familiar narrative of the artist’s life and art, such as his time in Paris and his work with Surrealism and Existentialism. Rather, as stated by Paul Moorhouse, curator of the exhibition, “What our exhibition does is to propose an alternative reading of Giacometti’s work. What it shows is that, effectively, he had a double life. Throughout his career from 1914 to 1966, Giacometti had an unbroken involvement with portraiture, which is the subject of our exhibition. We follow Giacometti’s involvement with portraits throughout his life alongside his more familiar work. Our message is that Giacometti is not only one of the greatest artists of the 20th century, he is also one of the leading portraitists.”
Diving a bit deeper, the exhibition presents a unique vision of Giacometti’s portraiture, work that defied conventional attitudes and definitions of the genre. For Giacometti, portraiture was “about looking”; as Moorhouse suggests, “It’s about testing his response to a human presence in the studio and unraveling our relationship with the world.” The show will feature over 60 paintings, sculptures, and drawings from international public and private collections.
“Giacometti: Pure Presence” opened on October 15 and will be on view through January 10.
To learn more, visit the National Portrait Gallery.
This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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