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Giacometti masterpieces glow at Rome's Borghese Gallery

Contemporary sculptures on display alongside iconic classics

04 February, 17:56
Giacometti masterpieces glow at Rome's Borghese Gallery (By Elisa Cecchi) (ANSA) - Rome, February 4 - Masterpieces by Italian-Swiss sculptor and painter Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966) will feature in an exhibit at Rome's Galleria Borghese opening on Wednesday and continuing through May 25.

Bronzes by Giacometti, whose doubt-infused work fascinated contemporary writers and artists ranging from Jean-Paul Sartre to Pablo Picasso, will be shown alongside the Borghese Gallery's permanent collection embracing Neoclassical sculptures like Antonio Canova's Paolina and Gian Lorenzo Bernini's Baroque Apollo and Daphne as well as ancient Roman-Greek and Egyptian statues.

"Giacometti: La scultura" was organized by the director of the Roman museum Anna Coliva, and by Christian Klemm, one of the leading experts on Giacometti and the author of a number of monographs on the artist, who selected the 40 works of art and studied their collocation beside the Villa's extraordinary collection.

Giacometti earned a reputation in the early 1930s in Paris through his erotic and ironic Surrealist figures.

After rejecting Surrealism, during and after the Second World War, he started creating his stunning pole-like human bodies widely perceived as metaphors for post-war trauma and doubt.

The elusive charisma of Giacometti's work has influenced a range of contemporary sculptors from David Smith to Mark di Suvero, embodying a century of great political, historic and cultural turmoil.

The tragic emphasis and poetry of his art is enhanced in the exhibit by its juxtaposition with the permanent Borghese collection, ranging from ancient Roman to Baroque sculptures, including Bernini's powerful David.

The sensual shape of Giacometti's Femme couchée qui reve (1929) can be admired alongside Canova's Paolina, whose gaze stares towards the Tete qui regarde (1929), another early work by Giacometti.

Visitors can imagine the heavy steps of Giacometti's Homme qui marche (1947) and of Bernini's Aeneas as he makes arduous progress while carrying Anchises.

The unstable balance of Homme qui chavire (1950) can be compared to David's, also by Bernini, while the mysterious, dark Femme qui marche (1932-1936) is on display in the equally breath-taking Egyptian room.

Indeed, the artist's flattened heads and stark profiles are often reminiscent of ancient Egyptian figures.

The 40 Giacometti works of art on display are a voyage through his art's burning energy as he investigates the vital depth of men and women by reducing the human body to its essence.

Born in the Bergell Valley in Italian-speaking Switzerland in 1901, Giacometti moved to Paris in 1922, when the art scene was vibrant and wide open. Paris was his home until his death in 1966, aged 64.

His Surrealist works in the 1930s are at once elegant and perverse. Sculptures like the Disagreable Objects are at once aggressive and innocent, a reflection of the Surrealist preoccupation with sexuality.

Giacometti's women are objects of desire yet dangerous while the artist is also attracted to androgyny for its duality - a metaphor for the totality of life.

In the exhibit, the tragic awareness of the potential failures and frailty of mankind portrayed by Giacometti emerges in stark contrast to the human greatness glorified by the Borghese permanent collection.

The exhibit starts with the artist's late works including Grand Femme Debout I (1960) and Homme qui marche I (1960) and continues with the artist's 1920s works in the Canova room, including Femme couchée qui reve (1929), Femme chouchée (1929) and Homme (Apollon) (1929).

The Hermaphrodite Room hosts, among others, Femme Egorgée (1932) while Portrait de Madina Visconti (1932) and Tete d'Annette (1959) can be admired in the Vestibule.

The show ends in the Lanfranco Room with Giacometti's most celebrated busts including his wife's Annette as, by the mid-1950s, the artist increasingly focused on portraiture, sculpting his family and immediate circle of friends, to masterfully convey the psychological intensity of the human face.