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Alberto Giacometti, Yves Klein: In Search of the Absolute

by Salomé Baudino • 30 May 2016

On how an improbable duo make for a great couple.

Who could have predicted it? May the Nostradamus of the arts declare himself? The great ‘monochromist’, the irreverent Klein, who made the colour blue a synonym of his name, who used performances as an art (allegedly one of its initiators), who threw woman’s bodies on blank canvas, is said to cosmically converse with Giacometti, void-obsessed, conceptually-driven, emotionally-dense individual and brought to international fame thanks to his long, thin, emaciated figures, forever detached, insulated in space.


It’s Joachim Pissaro, a respected historian, director of the Hunter College Galleries and professor of Art History, a man who also happen to be the great-grandson of Impressionist painter Claude Pissaro, who is at the origin of the link, a convergence he first perceived on the way both artists chose to deal with the After-World-War-II-tumult: ‘’Both artists, rather than creating something that reflected the chaos, chose to rise above it, transforming and deciphering it into elegant, lyrical matter.’’

No stranger to the existentialism equation, credit is also given to Sartre (acclaimed French philosopher and author) who indirectly gave the exhibition its name ‘’A search of the Absolute’’ and previously wrote: ‘’Giacometti... is forever beginning anew [...] always meditating between nothingness and being.’’

Indeed, it’s a spiritual quest made physical. And the two avant-garde priests, through paintings and sculptures, follow an idea or an obsession: Humanity lost in nothingness, the human presence inhabiting a vacant space. The stakes of restriction within infinity, the place of the infinite within limitations.

Paris in the 1950s was an artist’s Eldorado and Klein and Giacometti only lived a mile away from one another. Though it is difficult to imagine they had never met, officially they have never been known to be friends or acquaintances. Still, there’s an intimacy, a strange sense of familiarity that renders the exhibition all the more mystical, where visitors witness the final encounter of two artists – who both transcend generations, who both never cease to raise eyebrows or questions -  face-to-face, one genius looking at the other in a joined meditation, the ultimate face-to-face.

Klein, Giacometti – It’s a match.

Alberto Giacometti and Yves Klein: In Search of the Absolute. Gagosian Gallery, 20 Grosvenor Hill. Until June 11. Free.

   



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Salomé Baudino


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