GIACOMETTI

1877-1947

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Status, price and estimation of the artist Augusto GIACOMETTI

Price of a signed painting: 5,000 – 500,000 €.

Estimate for a drawing or watercolour by the artist at auction: €2,000 – 60,000

Swiss Art Nouveau figure and pioneer of abstraction

Augusto Giacometti belongs to the famous dynasty of painters of the same name, who originated in the Swiss mountain village of Stampa. His cousin, Giovanni Giacometti, was the father of Alberto Giacometti, the most brilliant of the surrealist sculptors of the Rue Blomet Group. Characterised as one of the ‘strangest phenomena’ in Swiss art, Augusto Giacometti’s work constantly oscillated between the different avant-gardes of the time.

After training as a drawing teacher at the Zurich University of Art, he continued his artistic training in Paris from 1897 with Eugène Grasset. A leading painter in the Art Nouveau and Symbolist movements, his works are marked by Japanese and Italian Renaissance art. Later, in 1917, he was one of the first painters of the 20th century to engage in non-figurative painting and thus became a precursor of Tachism with his clusters of acid colours.

A resolutely contemporary artist, he was constantly in contact with the avant-garde movements and groups of artists of his time. Indeed, he maintained relations with the Italian Futurists and the Zurich Dadaists from 1918 onwards. As a member of the artists’ group Das Neue Leben, alongside Tristan Tzara and Hugo Ball, he took part in the 8th Dada-Soirée in the Zurich Traders’ Hall.

Augusto Giacometti enjoyed international success from the late 1920s onwards, with exhibitions in Berlin, Paris and Milan, and participated in the 18th Venice Biennale.

Stained glass and monumental painting

From 1929 onwards, he received official commissions for murals and stained-glass windows for secular and sacred buildings. Among others, he created the coloured windows of the Protestant church in Frauenfeld, in 1933 those of the Grossmünster in Zurich, in 1937 those of the village church of Adelboden, and in 1945 that of Frausmünster. Stained glass is clearly a medium in which light and colour manifest themselves in their most perfect form.

As for his murals, he produced a work of national importance: the entrance hall of the Waisenhaus Zürich police station in 1925 (better known as Giacometti-Halle).

“Here lies the master of colour”

His abstract paintings reflect his exhaustive study of the characteristics and rules of colour. From 1917 onwards, the artist produced only pure colour compositions that did not depict any objects, as did his pastels and “chromatic fantasies” in oil. Until the end of his life, he continued to create floral still lifes and other brightly coloured Swiss landscapes.

His epitaph reads Qui riposa il maestro dei colori (‘Here lies the master of colour’). Incidentally, the one and only retrospective of Augusto Giacometti’s work, by the Museum of Fine Arts in Bern (Switzerland) in 2014, is appropriately titled ‘Colour and Me’.

His main works include: Night (1903); Full Summer (1917); Self-Portrait II, (1947).

Online catalogue raisonné

In case you are interested, it is worth mentioning that the Swiss Institute for the Study of Art is preparing a catalogue raisonné of Augusto Giacometti’s paintings, frescoes and stained glass. The results of this research project will be published in open access at the beginning of 2023 on the following website: https://www.augusto-giacometti.ch/fr.

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