10. Fifty years of prints
Giacometti produced his first prints – wood etchings – alongside his father when he was still a schoolboy. During his life, Giacometti tried his hand at every print technique: wood, engraving, etching, aquatint, and above all, lithography, from 1949 onward.
As a witness at André Breton’s wedding in 1934, he illustrated the anthology offered by the poet to his young wife, L’Air de l’eau. Giacometti, who was a great book lover and friend of many writers and poets, also illustrated the writings of René Crevel (Les Pieds dans le Plat, 1933), Georges Bataille (Histoire de rats, 1947), Michel Leiris (Vivantes cendres, innommées, 1961), and René Char (Retour Amont, 1965). From 1951 onward, he produced lithographic plates which were separately published by the Maeght Gallery. Giacometti was always in favour of disseminating his work through quality editions. Lithography involving the transfer of a drawing onto a zinc plate offered the advantage of requiring lightweight equipment that was easy to handle: special paper and a lithographic pencil.The artist was thus able to leave his studio, go out into the street and sketch his city, café terraces, the overhead Metro, modern building sites like Orly airport, and the lithographer’s print shop, and then return to his studio. This would be the subject of Paris sans fin, a collection of 150 prints commissioned by the publisher Tériade, on which Giacometti worked from 1959 on, but which was not published until after his premature death.