Intimate Immensity: Alberto Giacometti Sculptures, 1935-1945 at Luxembourg & Dayan New York



Photo: Eli Lotar; Alberto Giacometti Estate/Licensed by VAGA and ARS, New York, NY, 2018. Courtesy Luxembourg & Dayan

Luxembourg & Dayan is pleased to announce ‘Intimate Immensity: Alberto Giacometti Sculptures, 1935-1945,’ the first United States exhibition dedicated exclusively to the artist’s cycle of very small human figures created in France and Switzerland during the Second World War.

‘Intimate Immensity’ draws its title from a passage in Gaston Bachelard’s philosophical treatise, The Poetics of Space (1958), a meditation upon the ways in which private domestic space can become a limitless universe of psychological experience and creative discovery. In his statement that “immensity in the intimate domain is intensity, an intensity of being, the intensity of a being evolving in a vast perspective of intimate immensity,’ one finds insight into Giacometti’s experience of the war years. His sculptures from this period express a sentiment of infinite regression, one in which reality is constantly pulling away and can be seen only from a distance. That sentiment took form through a gradual process in which Giacometti reduced his sculptures and diminished their size. Frustrated by his inability to find the correct sculptural expression for his thoughts, impressions, and feelings, the artist wrote in 1948 to Pierre Matisse, his art dealer in New York, ‘wanting to create from memory what I had seen myself, the sculptures gradually became smaller and smaller, bearing resemblance only when they were small…Often they became so very small that with one touch from my knife they vanished into dust.’

Giacometti in his room at Hôtel de Rive, Geneva, October 1944.
Photo: Eli Lotar, Courtesy of Fondation Giacometti

Opening on the heels of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s comprehensive survey ‘Alberto Giacometti: A Retrospective,’ the exhibition at Luxembourg & Dayan is curated by leading Giacometti scholar Casimiro Di Crescenzo. ‘Intimate Immensity‘ is installed in collaboration with contemporary Swiss sculptor Urs Fischer, who shares Giacometti’s passionate commitment to redefining the human form as a conduit and conveyor for psychological experience. The choice to present the show at the gallery’s venue on 64 East 77th Street, Manhattan’s second narrowest townhouse, foregrounds Giacometti’s insights concerning scale and emphasizes their relevance to the contemporary conditions of sculpture.

Evolving against a backdrop of unprecedented sociopolitical upheaval, this unique body of work represents a profoundly transformative phase of Giacometti’s career.  At no more than three inches tall and as thin as nails, these works reveal the path that led the artist to the elongated figures for which he became famous in the final two decades of his life.

In spite of their size, or perhaps precisely because of it, the figures in ‘Intimate Immensity’ are monumental in their presence, expressing Giacometti’s desire to withdraw from what he called ‘natural size’ in order to best represent his own perception of scale and experience. In addition to his sculptures, the exhibition will include a never before exhibited casket that Giacometti created from a matchbox to serve as a case for one of these figures.

Giacometti in his room at Hôtel de Rive, Geneva, October 1944.
Photo: Eli Lotar
Courtesy of Fondation Giacometti

‘Intimate Immensity’ is accompanied by a new publication featuring an extended essay by Casimiro Di Crescenzo, analyzing this period in Giacometti’s career; a translation of the rare interview with Alberto Giacometti on the subject of scale, conducted by Pierre Dumayet in 1963; and excerpts from Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space.

In organizing ‘Intimate Immensity,’ Luxembourg & Dayan is honored to collaborate with the Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation and other private lenders.

Intimate Immensity: Alberto Giacometti Sculptures, 1935-1945 will be on view from November 11 to January 12, 2019 at Luxembourg & Dayan New York, 64 East 77th Street, NYC

Following ‘Intimate Immensity,’ the gallery’s New York space will host a survey of Lucio Fontana’s rarest ceramic works.