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  • Writer's pictureBeyond the Canvas

Flashback no. 7: The Giacometti Gallery at Louisiana Museum, Humlebæk (29 Jun 2016)

Even on a very dark day, there was something strangely uplifting in the light that pervaded these rooms of the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 35 km north of Copenhagen. It may have been bucketing down like it only does in the summer, but Giacometti's magic was untarnished and, once again, the silent dialogue with his iconic statues could begin.

His hieratic figures were patiently waiting, standing there like sentinels frozen in time and space. I have always been struck by the contrast between the apparent stillness of the stance and the roughness of the scarred surface. If you look closely, you'll see the figures change as you move around them, they never look the same as they oscillate between being immobile and subtly edging towards movement. Giacometti's stick-thin bronzes are immortal, intense, ethereal, proud and timeless in their refusal to align with any art movement, style or period. So thin and yet so strong, so fragile and yet so resilient - everywhere they go they own the space they inhabit, emanating a mixed aura of presence and solitude and exposing the frailty of the human condition.

Once a successful surrealist painter, after 1935 Swiss-born Giacometti turned to sculpture for his restless explorations of the human body. Using his wife Annette as his favourite female model, he proceeded to completely break away from tradition establishing a new canon of representation that was revolutionary at his time and that remains unique to this day. In 2015 his work Pointing Man (1947) became the world's most expensive sculpture selling at $141M (with fees, mind) when it went under the hammer at Christie's in New York.

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