How many museums are there in Paris? The initiators of the Giacometti Institute that opened on 20 June 2018 in the Montparnasse district in the center of Paris probably asked themselves the same question. There are possibly hundreds if not thousands. Any art lover would know that one can spend days, nights, weeks, and more in the City of Lights to inhale the current and the past airs of art.
However, there can never be too much.
When Catherine Grenier, director of the Giacometti Foundation, came across the storage in 2014, she knew that Paris and the world needed to see the body of work of the figurative Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966) in its own space. A contemporary of Jean-Paul Sartre, Pablo Picasso, and Andre Brenton, Giacometti had arrived in Paris, France, in 1922 and never left. His style incorporated influences of cubism and surrealism and bordered on abstraction. Although Giacometti also saw his work strongly linked to the environment where he worked and lived in. The institute serves as a museum including an archive, library, and research center for education programs. It wasn’t possible to recreate the studio in the original location but it is now housed only one kilometer away in a 1914 Art Deco building. Some of the elongated sculptures in plaster, clay, and bronze and other pieces of art from the 1960s were quite fragile and cannot be moved and shipped to exhibitions such as the current Giacometti Retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, but they can be permanently displayed in this beautiful space in Paris. Visitors can see 350 sculptures, 90 paintings, and 2,000 drawings at various times that speak of the life and love of the artist. The real focal point of the institute though is the recreated studio. “The studio is the heart of the institute, “ Catherine Grenier said. The 240-square-feet studio has been completely rebuilt in the new location. Original walls that the widow Annette Giacometti saved after his death encase the cave-like structure of the room. Paint brushes are strewn about and ashtrays overflowing as if the artist only stepped out for a moment and will be right back. This space is so small that only 30 people can visit it at a time – reservations need to be made online before visiting the institute. The entire home of Giacometti’s artistic work in the institute is a 3,700-square-foot building that belonged to the French designer Paul Follot who used it as a showroom and his private mansion. The painted friezes, carved wood panels, ornate mosaic floors, and elaborate plaster works were renovated by architect Pascal Grasso and artfully restored by Pierre-Antoine Gâtier. The first exhibition in the new space would be worth seeing even if there wasn’t the fantastic exhibition ‘The Studio of Alberto Giacometti by Jean Genet’ that explores the artist’s friendship with the writer. This exhibition will run until the end of September.
For completely other clay, ceramic and sculptures, please visit Kohler Arts.