Alberto Giacometti: 'Tête de femme (Flora Mayo)' (c. 1927)
15 May – 18 August 2013
Exhibition in Gallery 4
This focused exhibition shows Alberto Giacometti’s sculpture 'Tête de femme (Flora Mayo)' (c. 1927) alongside his drawing ‘Corner of the Studio with 'Self-Portrait' from 1925 in Plaster' (c. 1927).
In 1922, Giacometti moved to Paris to study under the French sculptor Emile-Antoine Bourdelle at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. It was here that he met the subject of this sculpture - Flora Mayo, an American artist with whom he had a relationship in the mid-to-late 1920s.
The human figure and head were central to Giacometti's work throughout his life and he always maintained a keen interest in portraiture. This sculpture is one of a number of flattened, frontal compositions Giacometti made in the mid-1920s. Modelled in plaster, the subjects' facial features are, in each case, etched directly into the flat surface of the head.
'Tête de femme (Flora Mayo)' was cast posthumously from the 1926 plaster in c.1990 by Susse Fondeur, one of the oldest foundries in France. The patina differs starkly from the plaster version, which bears traces of coloured paint applied to the surface to emphasise the lips and eyes. This cast was once owned by the German artist Georg Baselitz (b. 1938) whose practice, like Giacometti's, is concerned with the human figure.
Exhibited alongside the sculpture, his drawing 'Corner of the Studio with 'Self-Portrait' from 1925 in Plaster' (c. 1927) depicts the studio where the artist worked from 1927 until his death in 1966.
'Tête de femme' has a clear relationship to drawing, bringing two and three-dimensional figuration together simultaneously, with the direct and spontaneous features symptomatic of Giacometti's portraiture.
Within the Institute's programme, Alberto Giacometti: 'Tête de femme (Flora Mayo)' (c. 1927) resonates with themes of replication in the concurrent The Age of Innocence: Replicating the Ideal Portrait in the New Sculpture Movement in the Sculpture Study Galleries, as well as the relationship between drawing and sculpture permeating the display of Robert Filliou: The Institute of Endless Possibilities in Galleries 1, 2 and 3. Filliou's practice - and life - shares much with the spirit of Surrealism that Giacometti's work helped to define.
The display has been supported by The Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia
Calke Green No.34 Estate Emulsion paint kindly supplied by Farrow & Ball