For its very first exhibition, the Espace Louis Vuitton Seoul presents eight emblematic sculptures by Giacometti, that belong to the Collection. These works, considered as key masterpieces of Giacometti’s oeuvre, pay tribute to the virtuosity of the iconic Swiss artist.
Despite the almost instant recognition of his work, and the friendship he forged with several personalities such as André Breton, Georges Bataille, André Masson and Michel Leiris, Giacometti quickly turned away from surreal objects that made him famous to refocus on the model. This solitary breakaway, in which he had “no other purpose than to try to set up a human head”, led him away from subservience to any movement, preferring to concentrate on the sources of creativity. Supported by his knowledge of prehistoric, ancient Egyptian, Sumerian and archaic Greek art, his work combined daily experience of the model with timeless forms of ancient models.
From 1935, he devoted himself entirely to the living model which became the sole obsessive subject of his work. Meanwhile, he took an interest in ratios of scale and the way figures occupy and activate the space around them. In the 1950s, his bodies became increasingly thin, reduced to the essential lines of their precarious existence: “[...] a man walking in the street weighs nothing, is much lighter in any case than the same dead or unconscious man. He is balanced on his legs. His weight is not felt. This is subconsciously what I wanted to reproduce... that lightness, by refining my silhouettes ...” (Interview with Jean Clay, 1963).
Giacometti felt a sense of lingering failure over his inability to reproduce his models as he perceived them and achieved extreme simplification that paradoxically orchestrates a striking emergence of the figure. Beyond an emotional expression, the artist imposed an optical approach of his works, such as dots or lines in a dense space. As expressed by Jean Genet, “their (Giacometti’s sculptures’) beauty seems to me to stand in an incessant, continuous toing and froing from the most extreme distance to the closest familiarity: that toing and froing is never-ending and is how we can say they are in movement”.