Alberto Giacometti was a Swiss sculptor, painter, draughtsman and printmaker.
Interested in art from an early age, he went to the Genoa School of Fine Arts, starting to paint in a post-Impressionist manner before turning to sculpture. After he finishes his studies, he moved to Paris to study under the sculptor Antoine Bourdelle. At that time, Bourdelle was an associate of Rodin. It was in Paris that Giacometti got influenced with cubism and surrealism. He soon became a leader in surrealism sculpture. Among his associates were Miró, Max Ernst, Picasso, Bror Hjorth and Balthus.
In the thirties Giacometti focus his art on the human head and select models he is familiar with like his sister. His style really stretched out and he represents people looking like "the blade of a knife". Giacometti's difficulty in re-approaching the figure as an adult is generally understood as a sign of existential struggle for meaning, rather than as a technical deficit because he did achieve exquisite realism with facility when he was executing busts in his early adolescence.
Giacometti work was classified in the Surrealist art movement, but his work resists easy categorization. Some describe it as formalist, others argue it is expressionist. If he started to work on a really small scale, often the size of a pack of cigarettes, in 1946 his sculpture became larger, but the larger they grew, the thinner they became. For Giacometti this visual result represented the sensation he felt when he looked at a woman. He used the same procedure in his paintings. Figures appear isolated and severely attenuated, as the result of continuous reworking. Subjects were frequently revisited.
Worldwide fame came in the beginning of the sixties when Giacometti was awarded the grand prize for sculpture at the Venice Biennale in 1962. Even when he had achieved popularity and his work was in demand, he still reworked models, often destroying them or setting them aside to be returned to years later.
Giacometti launch a number of large exhibitions throughout Europe in his later years. He also exhibits to the United States in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Giacometti died in 1966 of heart disease and chronic bronchitis in Switzerland. His body was returned to his birthplace in Borgonovo, where he was interred close to his parents.