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Diego Giacometti

Swiss  •  1902-1985

Biography

In 1935 Diego Giacometti took a holiday in Stampa, the Swiss town in which he grew up. The trip marked one of the first periods in which he was separated from his brother Alberto Giacometti, and perhaps in connection with having removed himself from the shadow of his brother's career, he began his first animal sculptures. It was shortly after this trip that the younger Giacometti also started making furniture, after patrons admired the stands he was crafting for his brother's sculptures. Diego modeled his maquettes in plaster (as opposed to clay or wax, which was the more common choice for sculptors) and cast his furniture in bronze, a departure from most metal furniture at the time, which was cast in iron. Illustrious clients included the Maeght and Noailles families as well as the decorator Jean-Michel Frank, who commissioned Alberto (assisted by Diego) to create plaster lighting and fireplace accessories.

Insights

  • Diego Giacometti is particularly well-known for his fantastical sculptures of animals. One of his more whimsical creations incorporated a real ostrich egg shell into the bronze sculpture of an ostrich. Phillips sold an example of this design in April 2012.

  • Alberto and Diego worked closely together for over forty years, sharing the same studio in Paris.

  • In the early 1980s the Musée Picasso in Paris (in conjunction with CNAP, France's National Visual Arts Centre) commissioned Diego Giacometti to create over fifty works to refurnish their inaugural location in the seventeenth-century Hôtel Salé.

"At the foundation of [Giacommeti's] work was a rhythm from the beginning of time, a temperament and humor where the trees, birds, and frogs gathered around to join him." –Henri Cartier-Bresson

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