Alberto Giacometti - Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler
The Institut Giacometti presents a reconfigured version of the film installation Flora and the accompanying work, Bust by the Swiss American artist couple Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler, in conjunction with a collection of sculptures and drawings by Alberto Giacometti, most of which have never been seen before. Flora installation reframes the history of the unknown American artist, Flora Mayo, bringing her compelling biography to life and revealing a particular period in Alberto Giacometti's life.
Curator : Christian Alandete
Flora Mayo came to Paris in 1925 to study at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Antoine Bourdelle's sculpture class. There she met Alberto Giacometti, with whom she began a romantic relationship. Each of them made a portrait of the other. But the consequences of the Great Depression in the United States put an end to Flora’s life as an artist in Paris. With her family ruined, she had to go back to America, and earn her living far from the artistic world, in very precarious conditions: first she worked in a factory, then became a cleaning woman. While Giacometti would become world famous, Flora Mayo's fate has left little trace in the history of art, being limited to a few sexist footnotes in the 1985 biography by James Lord dedicated to Giacometti.
Flora was first presented at the Swiss Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2017. In close collaboration between the artists and the Fondation Giacometti, the installation has been especially adapted for the Institut Giacometti, in dialogue with Giacometti's works from the same period. The story of Flora Mayo, which Hubbard / Birchler have reconstructed after some outstanding detective work, presents an opportunity for Hubbard / Birchler to discuss the role of women in art history and the writing of art history. Hubbard / Birchler have developed a hybrid form of storytelling which interweaves two forms of cinema: a mostly black and white biopic depicting Flora Mayo’s Paris studio and a colour documentary which reconstructs Flora's personal history through the eyes of her son David Mayo. Through a common soundtrack, the artists bring together two distinctive versions of the same story, creating a conversation between a mother and her son and building a bridge between 1927 Paris and present day Los Angeles.