Alberto Giacometti is surprising at Musée Maillol

Composition (dite Cubiste I, Couple) ca 1926-27, Fondation Giacometti

When I went to Musée Maillol, to see the Giacometti show, I thought I would know every single statue and be slightly bored. Well not at all, because the first two rooms have such wonderful early sculptures that it is worth going just for them and the very last painted plaster which is huge and very surprising. The few Rodin groups are of course overwhelmingly beautiful.

Personnage accroupi, ca 1926, bronze, Fondation Giacometti

At the beginning of the show, “Le Couple”, a bronze sculpture, expresses well the influences of African art on Alberto Giacometti. He showed it along Constantin Brancusi and Ossip Zadkine at the Salon des Tuileries in 1927. His “cubist” statues, whether in bronze or in plaster, show how radical his art has become. The artist had acquired an African statue from Serge Brignoni which particularly inspired him with its concave shape. He was also very curious of prehistoric art, of the Cycladic archaic statues with their flat faces which influenced his “Woman (flat V)” ca 1929.

Le Couple, 1927, bronze, Fondation Giacometti

An extraordinary version of “Les Bourgeois de Calais” by Rodin is shown here and it is interesting to see the contrast between the two styles. Both sculptors will be the topic of an exhibition at Fondation Pierre Gianadda this summer in Martigny. Of the 75 sculptures shown here, fifty are by Giacometti, twenty five by his predecessors or contemporaries. A lovely blue and white stone sculpture  by Henri Laurens represents “Glass and bottle”, “Three nymphs” by Maillol punctuates the show and forms a reassuring (fat) contrast to Giacometti skinny ladies.

The show is very well staged by architect Eric Morin

The intimate size of Musée Maillol and the happiness of the exhibition provide for a lovely moment. The exhibition curated by Catherine Grenier, director of Fondation Giacometti, is impeccable. Until February 3, Musée Maillol, 59 rue de Grenelle. You can also visit the Fondation Giacometti, booking online only.

And a major Giacometti show is on in Bilbao at the Guggenheim until February 24.

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