'Alberto Giacometti working at a Yanaihara bust in his studio, Paris, Sept. 1960' Collection Fondation Giacometti, Paris, inv. 2003-2483 Photograph: Annette Giacometti © Giacometti Estate. Licensed by Viscopy, 2015.

Born in Switzerland in 1901, Alberto Giacometti was encouraged to take up a career in art by his artist father. He studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Ecole des Arts et Métiers in Geneva before relocating to Paris in 1922. Here Giacometti attended sculpture classes at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière and circulated among artists such as Pablo Picasso and Max Ernst. In the early 1930s, Giacometti played an integral role in the Parisian Surrealist movement; his sculptures Spoon woman and Woman with her throat cut date from this period. Toward the end of the 1930s, Giacometti’s iconic elongated figural sculptures began to emerge.

In 1962, Giacometti was awarded the Venice Biennale’s Grand Prize for Sculpture. Though famous for his sculptures, Giacometti also produced many graphic works throughout his artistic career. The Kenneth Tyler Collection features two lithographs which Giacometti created at Gemini Ltd in 1965. The prints, Standing woman and Seated figure (woman), are typical examples of Giacometti’s graphics, both featuring a solitary figure in an interior.
Emilie Owens

Further reading


Born in Borgovno, Switzerland

Family relocates to Stampa, Switzerland

Attends the Evangelical School in Schiers, Switzerland

Studies painting at the École des Beaux-Arts and sculpture and drawing at the École des Arts et Métiers in Geneva

Travels to Italy with his father Giovanni; attends the Venice Biennale and visits the Arena Chapel in Padua before returning to Switzerland and working in Geneva and then returning to Italy; visiting Florence and settling in Rome

Moves to Paris

Attends sculpture classes at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière taught by Antoine Bourdelle. Attendance at classes is sporadic, and punctuated by long absences.

Produces first major sculpture, Spoon woman

Sets up a studio with his brother Diego, who becomes his assistant and constant companion. Exhibits sculpture at the Salon des Tuileries, Paris. Exhibits for the first time in Switzerland, with his father, at the Galerie Aktuayrus, Zurich

Meets artists André Masson, Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, Joan Miró, and the writers Georges Bataille and Louis Aragon

Involved with the Parisian group of Surrealists

First solo exhibition, Galerie Pierre Colle, Paris

Meets Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir

First American solo exhibition, Julien Levy Gallery, New York

Moves to Geneva

Solo exhibition, Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York

Retrospective exhibitions at the Arts Council Gallery, London, and the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York

Receives Sculpture Prize, Carnegie International, Pittsburgh, United States of America

Included in Venice Biennale, Italy, and is awarded the Grand Prize for Sculpture

Travelling retrospective exhibition, originating at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; solo exhibition, Alberto Giacometti: sculpture, paintings, drawings 1913 – 1965, Tate, London; retrospective exhibitions, Louisiana Museum, Humlebaek, Denmark and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam Netherlands. Receives the Grand Prix National des Arts from the French Government

Alberto Giacometti died in Chur, Switzerland

Emilie Owens, 2007
This chronology provides an overview of selected biographical information, major solo and group exhibitions held within the artist's own lifetime.

Further information will be added to this site as the National Gallery proceeds with its research and documentation.

Last updated January 2017