Giacometti Pure Presence

Posted by Olderiswiser Editorial

National Portrait Gallery opens a collection of works by Alberto Giacometti that reveals his lifelong passion for portraiture.

Bust of Annette by Alberto Giacometti 1954 Private Collection

Giacometti is one of the most distinctive and popular of all 20th century artists and it is something of a coup that The National Portrait Gallery has been able to bring together for the first time, a unique collection of the artist's portraits (until 10 January 2016).

Giacometti Pure Presence comprises more than 60 works, including paintings, sculptures and drawings, spanning the whole of the Swiss artist's career. Curated by Paul Moorhouse, NPG's curator of 20th century portraits, this collection offers a fascinating insight into the sometimes-conflicted art of this contemporary of Picasso, Miro and Max Ernst.

Including very rare loans from private collections and seldom seen portraits, the exhibition marks the 50th anniversary of the artist's death and is notable for the way it captures a parallel creative force unburdened by the salon culture of 1920s Paris.

While Giacometti was making his name as a sculptor in France in the early Twenties, he continued to paint and draw from life. This exhibition helps to encapsulate the intensity of his relationship with frequent sitters; his brother Diego; Isabel Nichol; his mother; and the young woman Caroline, whom he met in 1960 and who sat for his portraits over the following five years.  

There is a comforting symmetry about this show that strips away much of the gloss that has hidden the artist's lifelong fascination with the draughtsmanship, the human form, its representation and the facsimile of appearance. From his earliest portraits, including a bust of his brother Diego created in 1914 when he was just 13 years old, to his last bronze busts from 1965, the works chart a half century of development from post impressionism and cubism to expressionism. 

This is most important exhibition of Giacometti's work in almost 20 years and an opportunity not to be missed!



Giacometti Pure Presence

National Portrait Gallery until 10 January 2016

Box office: 020 7766 7344 - Daily 9.00 – 17.00 call (transaction fee applies)

Online box office: NPG Tickets    


Images: Jean Genet, © The Estate of Alberto Giacometti (Fondation Giacometti, Paris and ADAGP, Paris), ACS/DACS, 2015; Bust of Annette by Alberto Giacometti, 1954, Private Collection © Alberto Giacometti Estate, ACS/DACS, 2015


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