Figure I, (Caroline)

Fondation Giacometti -  Figure I, (Caroline)

At the end of 1961, Alberto Giacometti started to work on the piece Figure I, Caroline. The photographer Paul Almasy visited the artist’s studio at that time to illustrate an article that was published in the magazine Schweizer Illustrierte Zeitung on the 15th January 1962. He photographed Alberto Giacometti working in his studio, surrounded by his sculptures and paintings. On his left, two paintings in progress are placed on the floor, one the painting representing Caroline.

During 1962, Annette, the artist’s wife, took photographs of the evolution of certain pieces in the inner courtyard of the studio, among them the painting of Caroline. In the same year, the photographer Ernst Scheidegger took photos of the painting placed on the floor in the studio. The painting also figures in one of the drawings the artist made for the series Paris sans fin (published posthumously in 1969). All those testimonies illustrate the various phases of the artist’s work and the continual transformations carried out on the painting: the dress worn by Caroline changes, her hairstyle is reduced in volume and the position of her hands is modified.

Between 1962 and 1963, Giacometti chose, from among his latest works, several paintings of Caroline, among them this one, for his personal exhibition at the Venice Biennial as well as for his large retrospective at Zurich’s Kunsthaus. The painting is finished by then, but the photos of the hanging show a painting not signed nor dated. At that time, the painting was 100 cm high and 81 cm wide and it bore large white borders on the sides.

After the closing of the Zurich exhibition, the piece was sold in February 1963 to the Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York, where it was once more photographed by Eric Pollitzer before it was stored away. In April 1963, the artist, coming out of the clinic where he had undergone a big operation, asked the gallery owner to send back the piece to be signed and dated.

The dimensions of the piece have been altered, and it has lost 5 centimetres of white border on each side. The painting was therefore presented signed, dated and reduced in its width at the touring exhibition in the United States in 1965-1966 (New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the San Francisco Museum of Art). The circumstances surrounding that reduction in size are not known. The position of the signature in the right angle leads us to think that it is the artist himself who has carried out that change. How

Serena Bucalo
Research Assistant, Paintings

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