Chaotic ‘lair’ of Swiss artitst Giacometti to be recreated in Paris

Dozens of unseen works by the Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti – the world's most expensive sculptor – will go on display for the first time in June when a reconstruction of his famously decrepit studio opens in Paris.

Chaotic 'lair' of Swiss artitst Giacometti to be recreated in Paris
Alberto Giacometti's Stele III. Photo: AFP

The recreation of the dark and cramped Montparnasse “lair” where he worked for 40 years, and which featured heavily in the recent film 'Final Portrait,' will be the centrepiece of a new Giacometti Institute, said its directors, who hold the world's biggest collection of his work, on Monday.

Like his tiny and now almost mythical plaster-covered studio where, as one critic said, artworks “got buried, lost or forgotten, broken up, trampled and ground into nothingness”, the institute is relatively modest.

Only 40 people at a time will be allowed into the building, five minutes' walk from the dark “cave” where Giacometti worked, to see the collection of 350 sculptures and more than 2,000 drawings held by the Giacometti Foundation.

Many of the works, which also include 90 paintings, have never been shown or published before, the foundation said.

Giacometti's spindly human figures are among the most highly regarded sculptures of the 20th century.

His “Man Pointing” bronze holds the world record for the most expensive sculpture ever sold at auction: $141.2 million (115 million euros) in 2015.

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French photographer Robert Doisneau in the 1950s immortalised the creative chaos of the studio where Giacometti entertained friends and visitors including the writers Samuel Beckett, Jean Genet and Jean-Paul Sartre and the Catalan painter Joan Miro.

It was a painting that Miro gave as a gift to his friend that paid for the institute and research centre, its director Catherine Grenier told AFP.

“Painting, 1954” was sold at Sotheby's in London three years ago for 7.7 million pounds (€11 million euros, $13.5 million).

Without that, Grenier said they would have had trouble raising the money for a building to honour the sculptor's work.

“We have limited resources and we do not have any public subsidy,” she added. “There are lots of museums in Paris but we wanted to do something different.”

Alberto Giacomettit with his wife Annette Arm in 1965. Photo: Prevel/AFP