Swiss sculptor, printmaker, painter and draughtsman Alberto Giacometti’s figures of various size and materials are perhaps some of the most recognisable sculptures ever made.

Born in a remote Swiss valley in 1901, Giacometti was the son of a successful realist Swiss painter and he made his first sculpture at the age of 13. He moved to Paris in 1922 and discovered surrealism, whilst also becoming a close friend of André Breton.

For this blockbuster show at Tate Modern organised through access to the collection and archive of the Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti, Paris, over 250 works including sculptures, plasters and drawings make it one of the most expansive surveys of the Swiss artist to date.

His sculptures as observed in this show of works including Man Pointing (1947), The Dog (1951) and Bust of Annette IV (1962), evokes so strongly the relationship between looking and touching. Finger marks (or mould marks) cover entire surfaces which retain the visibility of the artist’s hand as it closed around and created these now celebrated sculptures.

The drawings selected and shown here add a further layer to the ways in which Giacometti’s career evolved over five decades, an insight if you like into seeing how ‘The more he worked, the more he saw differently’.

Giacometti’s works cross boundaries of being conceptual and emotional, anonymous and specific, ancient and modern, whilst dealing with mortality, embodiment, and the human condition as manifested in his emaciated and somewhat exaggerated figures. Giacometti continues to be described as either Surrealist, Existentialist, and Expressionist; his work touch on all of these themes, but conforms to none.

The exhibition is organised by Tate Modern and Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti, Paris. It is curated by Frances Morris, Director, Tate Modern and Catherine Grenier, Director, Chief Curator, Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti, Paris with Lena Fritsch, Assistant Curator, Tate Modern assisted by Mathilde Lecuyer, Associate Curator, Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti.

Giacometti is at the Tate Modern, London until 10 September 2017

by Jareh Das