Giacometti’s studio: 5 things you didn’t know Alberto Giacometti, the Swiss sculptor and painter, died on 11 January 1966. Here are the secrets behind the artist’s studio

In 1920s and 1930s Paris, the studio was an essential tool of the trade. Artists built up a mystique around their studios so that it would be talked about and visited by buyers, dealers, artists, writers, and the outside world. Michael Peppiatt’s 2010 book provides a fascinating insight into Giacometti’s studio.

1. As a young artist in 1926 Giacometti took a studio on whim at 46 rue Hippolyte. It was a small, dark, tiny space (about 20 square meters) in “uniformly modest” area of Paris.

“I planned on moving on as soon as I could because it was too small – just a hole,” the artist is recorded to have told an Ameican journalist. But he stayed there for the rest of his life. Author Michael Peppiatt believes these humble rooms, “as bereft of hope as of any human comfort” were where Giacometti was happiest working because of his dark nature. ‘You like the shadow,’ Giacometti’s mother is recorded to have said to the artist as a boy.

 

Alberto Giacometti’s studio ( Photo: Ernst Scheidegger)

2. It is little-known that in 1959 the artist had an invitation to meet actress Marlene Dietrich. After meeting in a local Paris café, Dietrich visited his studio. He is said to have climbed down a ladder, which was leaning against a sculpture he was working on, to talk to her. What he then said to her, she later recalled, was “so sad, I would have cried, if I could have cried at the right moment.” The pair went out on several other occasions. One of the letters the artist wrote to her just sold at Sotheby’s for over $250K.

3. When Giacometti died in 1966 his studio contained countless unfinished works. Peppiat calls the studio a “repository of repeated failure”. He later writes, that “in view of the quantity of drawings Giacometti left behind, one can well believe that his hand simply never stopped.”

Alberto Giacometti’s studio ( Photo: Ernst Scheidegger)

4. Unlike many other artists of the period, Giacometti’s studio contained no collections of other artists work, nor artefacts or collectables. It was full of just his own work, materials, paper and sometimes his models, or the people who visited – many of them famous. The furniture is described by the American conductor Robert Craft in 1965 as consisting of “a battered table, a potbellied stove, and a small tree that comes up through the floor like a medieval miracle…”

Alberto Giacometti’s studio ( Photo: Ernst Scheidegger)

5. One of the regular visitors to Giacometti’s studio was poet Samuel Beckett. The poet and artist met in 1937 and became renowned drinking partners in Montparnasse. Beckett said of the artist: “things were insolvable [for him], but that kept him going.” According to those who knew the pair their meetings consisted of mostly “pleasant silences”. Peppiatt’s book explores how the artist and writer’s aesthetics crossed paths. They were also, he writes, both fond of the same brothel.

‘In Giacometti’s Studio’ is published by Yale University Presswww.eykynmaclean.comColored-Palms-16X20INCH-Acrylics.Oils.Crayons.on.canvas

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