Alberto Giacometti’s studio is returning to Montparnasse in Paris, more than half a century after the Swiss artist died. His original studio packed with sculptures and drawings no longer exists, but the Giacometti Fondation is recreating the space. He left it in 1966 as the centerpiece of the new Giacometti Institute, which is due to open on June 21 in an historic building in the same neighborhood.
Catherine Grenier, the former deputy director of the Musée National d’Art Moderne at the Centre Pompidou , has transformed the Giacometti Foundation since she took the helm in 2014. Her opinion is that the reconstruction was made because Giacometti welcomed photographers and writers into his cramped working space.
Photographers like Robert Doisneau, Sabine Weiss, Gordon Parks, and Ernst Scheidegger recorded the space . The fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh photographed sculptures for the first time for a show at the new institute that was due to open in early 2019.
The inaugural exhibition has to explore Giacometti’s friendship with the writer Jean Genet. It was in 1958 that the two first met, when Genet sat for Giacometti and he wrote an account of the sculptor and painter’s studio. They were introduced by Jean-Paul Sartre. Grenier says that Giacometti was friend with a lot of philosophers and Simone de Beauvoir wrote of the artist being “submerged in plaster.”
Annette Messager was the first contemporary artist to respond to Giacometti’s working space. The French-born sculptor and installation artist whose work frequently has a feminist angle, is preparing new works for her show, which is due to open in the fall.
Grenier admits that the Giacometti Institute is not a large space. It is rebuilt in an early 20th century townhouse, that served as the former studio of the artist and interior designer Paul Follot. It measures 350 square meters and it is converted by the architect Pascal Grasso. Still, Giacometti’s original studio measured only 20 square meters. He said: “The longer I stayed, the bigger it became. I could fit anything I wanted into it.” We may admire more than 70 sculptures in the reconstructed studio, including the very last clay works which the artist was working on before he died.