After years of difficulties (and a number of legal issues, involving lawyers, former ministers, leading auctioneers…) the French public utility institution “Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti”, created by the French Ministry of Culture, has at last been able to open a place of exhibition.

Alberto Giacometti (1901-66) was born in Switzerland, but spent most of his life in Paris. In a previous post I showed where he used to have his studio from 1926 till his death. Many fellow artists were frequent guests - Picasso, Braque, Becket… and Jean Genet (see more below...).

His widow, Annette (1923-93), managed to save the walls and the interior of his studio before demolition and this is now – at last – exhibited (see also top picture).

The Foundation is occupying a building originally belonging to a famous designer, Paul Follot (1877-1941), who worked for Christofle, Wedgwood…,  decorated the steamer Normandie… and of course his own house. You can still see a lot of traces of the original decoration in the building - classified as “monument historique” - despite a complete renovation.

The Foundation holds a collection of some 5.000 works – including some 95 paintings, 260 bronze sculptures, 550 plaster sculptures…. Maybe you get the impression that rather few of his famous sculptures are exhibited, but we must remember that the Foundation also organises exhibitions worldwide…

At the moment, there is a special exhibition linked to the Giacometti’s studio and his long talks with Jean Genet (1910-86) which led to some famous writings by Genet and to a portrait of Genet by Giacometti (normally at Centre Pompidou). Jean Genet was of course a controversial personality with some criminal background, but who became an important novelist, playwright, poet… and always remained a political activist. Some of his plays have been produced at the finest international theatres and his play “The Balcony” has even been filmed by Hollywood (see here), but he remains controversial… Below we can see him with Giacometti, but also with William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg during a pro-Black-Panthers demonstration…

I was lucky to be there for the inauguration, which took place June 20. Beautiful weather made it possible to offer the champagne outdoors, in the (temporarily closed) street. We are on a street, close to the Montparnasse Cemetery (see previous post) and we can remember that Picasso had his studio in the neighbouring building 1916-19 and that Simone de Beauvoir lived in this street 1955-86.  



Maria Russell said...

I do not remember any more in which of his writings, Miguel Angel Asturias refers extensively to Alberto Giacometti, and also to some others, among the great, that he met during his youth in Paris.
As you suggest in your post, I paid a visit to the Montparnasse cemetery. It's so beautiful!

And all that champagne! You're so lucky to live in a country where its people have such a mastery for rising to the occasion.
Thanks for the tour, Peter.

martinealison said...

Bonjour cher Peter,

Un billet fascinant ! Merci pour ce joli reportage.
Gros bisous

claude said...

Sans parler de l'art de Giacometti, excellent reportage comme d'habitude, ainsi que celui sur la Sorbonne.