Review: Alberto Giacometti & Peter Lindbergh, Gagosian London ‘Heightened Drama’


If you’re a Giacometti fan, there’s certainly plenty to tempt you in the London art galleries this Summer, for complementing the vast retrospective of the great painter-sculptor at the Tate Modern is this new show at Gagosian Gallery on Giacometti sculptures and their photographs by Peter Lindbergh.

In 2016, Peter Lindbergh was invited to photograph some of Giacometti’s bronzes and plaster figures held in the collection of the Kunsthaus Zurich – the largest collection of works by Giacometti held in a museum, comprising 150 sculptures, as well as paintings and drawings. And the results are a collection of images that are not only artworks in their own right, but heighten the drama, texture and craftsmanship in Giacometti’s original sculptures.

Fifteen of Lindbergh’s images are on display at the Gagsosian, alongside some of the Giacometti works photographed, and they are bold, stark photos. Universally black and white, they are imposing, whether that be in the forensic close-ups of wide open eyes of a traumatised face, or the accentuated curves of a figure that only exaggerates a sensuousness that can be overlooked in the original.

The aggravated texture of Giacometti’s figures is also highlighted. The raised surface of each figure, the result of his constant reworking and pressing on the plaster before it was cast.

The desire to photograph sculpture dates back to the advent of photography itself so Lindbergh’s works very much follow in the tradition of sculptors such as Rodin and Rosso, for example, who used the camera as a developmental tool. By focusing in on details, by taking shots from unusual angles, the artists could see new interplays of light and perspective, which they would in turn use as they reworked their sculptures.

Also, photography of finished works – such as Lindbergh’s here – allows viewers to engage with the original sculptures in fresh ways, with new perspectives. And certainly, that is the impact here. Perhaps the figures on display are not as magnificent as those curated together by the Tate Modern for their exhibition, but the photographs of these figures give them a new depth, their emotional impact heightened.

The display is small – about forty works in total – but nevertheless, this show is a wonderful demonstration of the drama that can be manipulated and captured through photography of sculpture.

Britannia Street, London, to July 22, 2017
Admission free
See more images from the exhibition in my Facebook album.

Image Credits:
1 PETER LINDBERGH Alberto Giacometti, Femme debout (Poseuse I) (1954), Zurich, 2016, 2016 Hahnemuhle Photo Rag® Baryta 315 grs 35 7/16 x 23 5/8 inches 90 x 60 cm © Peter Lindbergh © Succession Alberto Giacometti (Fondation Giacometti + ADAGP) Paris 2017 Courtesy Gagosian

2 PETER LINDBERGH, Alberto Giacometti, Buste de Diego (vers 1964-1965), Zurich, 2016, 2016 Hahnemuhle Photo Rag® Baryta 315 grs 70 7/8 x 47 1/4 inches 180 x 120 cm © Peter Lindbergh © Succession Alberto Giacometti (Fondation Giacometti + ADAGP) Paris 2017 Courtesy Gagosian

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