Giacometti Institute

Giacometti Institute: a new art institution in Paris

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On Wednesday 21 June the Giacometti Foundation opens the Giacometti Institute in Montparnasse. The Foundation has brought together and restored more than 300 sculptures, 90 paintings, more than 5,000 works on paper, as well as a remarkable collection of archives and photographs kept by the artist's widow, Annette. A heritage that has remained largely inaccessible to the public since the artist's death more than fifty years ago, and which has been the subject of several major exhibitions in recent years, both in France and abroad, will finally be accessible to the greatest number. A rare opportunity to discover the intimacy of the Swiss artist but also a place of reference for Giacometti's work devoted to exhibitions, research and education.
 
D’With a surface area of 350 m2, the Giacometti Institute is located at 5, rue Victor Schœlcher in the 14th arrondissement, a district of Montparnasse where Alberto Giacometti lived and worked throughout his career. It is housed in the former workshop of the artist-decorator and cabinetmaker Paul Follot, a listed private mansion in the Art Deco style, whose decorations have been preserved, restored and refurbished.
With a particularity: the place will only accommodate 40 people at a time and will be accessible only by reservation via internet. Its aim is to create an optimal relationship between the objects on display and the public's view. A "new type of space" that breaks away from the museum straitjacket.
 
Pascal Grasso, architect - Pierre- Antoine Gatier, ACMH associate architect - Image: Bild, Bildstudio.net
 
For Catherine Grenier, director and curator of the foundation, former deputy director of the Musée national d'art moderne du Centre Pompidou, ". What we want to do at the Giacometti Institute is to take a new look at Giacometti: that of the historians, or of the artists who enter into dialogue with him in their works. »
All the art of the past, of all eras, of all civilizations, appears before me, everything is simultaneous, as if space took the place of time. « 
Alberto Giacometti
The Institute will permanently present Alberto Giacometti's reconstructed studio, composed of his furniture, personal objects, walls painted by the artist and works, some of which have never been exhibited before, including his latest earthenware works, never before shown, his furniture and painted walls.
 
Reconstruction of Giacometti's workshop (© Succession Giacometti (Giacometti Foundation + ADAGP) Paris 2018)
 
Temporary exhibitions (three to four per year) will shed new light on the artist's work, on his links with the artists and writers of his time, and on the echoes of his work in subsequent generations.
 
Jean Genet & Alberto Giacometti in the workshop. 1957. Photograph Isaku Yanaihara. Giacometti Foundation Archives, Paris ©Succession Giacometti (Giacometti Foundation + ADAGP) Paris 2018.

 
The inaugural exhibition, entitled "The Workshop of Alberto Giacometti by Jean Genet" (from June to September 2018), will report on the relationship of friendship and admiration between the artist and the writer, who met in 1954 through Jean-Paul Sartre. A first in Paris based on this work by Jean Genet, which remains one of the most precious testimonies of the artist's work and a unique description of his creative universe.
 
As explained on the website of the Giacometti Institute, "with the permanent reconstruction of the artist's studio, the visitor will discover what Genet, considered "the most important and total" of Giacometti's works, "his other self, the essence and ultimate residue of his artistic contribution". It is in this mythical space, surrounded by dust and plunged into silence, that Genet, seated on an uncomfortable straw chair, posed several times between 1954 and 1957. The two men engage in an intense dialogue that reveals the essence of Giacometti's art and personality. "(Curator: Serena Bucalo-Mussely).
 
Then from October 2018 to January 2019, carte blanche will be given to the visual artist Annette Messager, who has often referred to the works of Giacometti. 
This will be followed by an exhibition of photographs of Giacometti's sculptures taken by Peter Lindbergh in the Foundation's storerooms (early 2019). The Foundation will then continue its programming outside the walls, with six exhibitions in 2018 in major international institutions in Seoul, Quebec City, Basel, New York and Bilbao, as well as at the Musée Maillol in Paris.
 

A research centre open to all

The Institute also aims to be a research centre with research grants, a collection of publications, but above all a reference library on modern art, partly consisting of Alberto Giacometti's personal library, and a graphic art cabinet giving access to the exceptional collection of the Giacometti Foundation, comprising more than 5000 drawings, lithographs and personal notebooks by the artist, most of which are unpublished.
A research program in art history, The School of Modernity will also be open to researchers, students and amateurs; symposia, conferences and masterclasses will give the floor to art historians and curators who will present their work and the research actualité́.
 
An educational programme is organised for the general public, schoolchildren and people who are unable to attend with proposals for visits and practical workshops.
 

An emblematic place 

Until then, the Foundation, created in 2003, had been organising exhibitions from its fund but did not have permanent exhibition space to show the works.
The purchase of the private mansion in Rue Victor Schœlcher and the works (4.5 million euros) were financed by the sale in 1915 at Sotheby's of a painting that Miro had offered to Giacometti, for approximately 8.8 million euros.
 
Dating from the period of stylistic transition between Art Nouveau and Art Deco, the building was constructed between 1912 and 1914. Paul Follot's studio is a remarkable testimony to the Montparnasse district, the place where artists were chosen. The decorations have been preserved and restored by the architect of historical monuments Pierre-Antoine Gatier. The reorganization of the space and the scenography were entrusted to the architect Pascal Grasso. For him the challenge was threefold: to respect the historic monument, to give Giacometti's work its full place, while imagining a contemporary place with its own identity.
"We have chosen a contextual approach that consists of preserving the traces of history and transforming the constraints imposed by the existing building into assets for contemporary creation. » explains Pascal Grasso, the architect of the place.
 
The architect has taken advantage of the differences in levels, which allow for the creation of singular perspectives and viewpoints, and has organised a labyrinthine scenographic route where the alternating ceiling heights and the maze of circulations offer varied experiences. For Pascal Grasso, 
"We have created a scenographic journey, punctuated with surprises and events thanks to a contextual approach and a minimalist adapted intervention"..
 
Visitors access the exhibition rooms via a patio integrated into the scenographic space thanks to a glass roof created by the architect.
 
For Pascal Grasso and Pierre-Antoine Gatier, their approach to the protected areas was to work on the "conservation of the scenery", but not on an identical restoration. The objective was to preserve the marks of time, the historical traces and to add to them by a contemporary gesture, the elements necessary for the new vocation of the place.
 
The intervention respects the principles of reversibility and limits contemporary interventions, maintaining a distance from historical settings.
"White partitions, railings, plinths, light fixtures, stand out from the historical decor and seem to float. The shape of the suspended fixtures is inspired by the geometry of the historic ceilings that house them, turning them into new contemporary chandeliers that continue the historic layering of the site. completes Pascal Grasso.
 
 
The Giacometti Institute - Opening June 21, 2018 - 5 rue Victor Schoelcher 75014 Paris
Visits by online booking www.fondation-giacometti.fr/institut
 
 
Header photo of Alberto Giacometti - ©Jean-Régis Roustan - Roger-Viollet/AFP
 

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