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Friday, August 18, 2017

Giovanni Giacometti

Boathouse with Boats on the Lake, watercolor, Giovanni Giacometti. The fact that the boathouse is unaccountably tilted makes the painting all the more intriguing.
Portrait of Ottilia Giacometti,
1912, Giovanni Giacometti
In this country we've come to call it "The American Dream." That is to say, we've come to expect our grown children to do at least as well in life as we have. Perhaps John Quincy Adams, the sixth President of the United States, said it best: “I am a warrior, so that my son may be a merchant, so that his son may be a poet.” In times past, the emphasis was on progeny stepping up to a higher social level with each generation. Today, Adams' words tend to equate to a higher economic plane--bigger house and car, better educated, more invest-ments, and a more secure retirement than what their parents enjoyed. Giovanni Giacometti was not an Am-erican. He was Swiss, but he seems to have instilled the essence of the Am-erican dream in his three sons, Alberto, Diego, and Bruno. Giovanni was a landscape painter who also painted portraits from time to time...mostly his own. He sometimes painted his wife, sons, and daughter too (above, left).

The children of artists frequently get called upon to model.
Alberto (above) and Diego Giacometti both became artist involved in sculpture (bottom), while Bruno became a notable architect. All three did well, although Alberto (above) far surpassed his siblings, even his father, who rather fades into the background among dozens of other outstanding Swiss painters of his time. I guess when you live in a country as scenic as Switzerland, you can't help but want to paint the landscape in its ever-changing seasonal beauty. Such works are the hallmark of Giovanni Giacometti's art. He became a painter so his sons could become sculptors and an architect.

There are ten self-portraits above. Giacometti painted at least that many more (not shown).
Giovanni Giacometti was born in Stampa, now part of Bregaglia in the southeastern corner of Switzerland, in 1868. Encouraged by his teacher, the young Giacometti chose an artistic career, which found him studying in Munich by 1886 where he attended the school of arts and crafts. It was in Munich that Giacometti met Cuno Amiet, who became his close friend as they studied the works of the French impressionists. Supported by his parents, Giacometti moved along with Amiet to Paris in 1888. In visiting the spring salon, the young artist was deeply impressed by some of what he saw. There, Giacometti saw for the first time the works of Gianni Segantini, whom he got to know in person later on.

Giacometti was there when his good friend and fellow painter Gianni Segantini died in 1899. He recorded in various media the man's final days, including a portrait after his death.

Annetta Giacometti, 1911,
Giovanni Giacometti.
As he frequently did, Giacometti ran short of money, forcing him to return to Stampa in 1891. There he suffered a period of loneliness and lack of inspir-ation. However, the showing of his first works in the Nationale Art Exhibition in Bern, along with a commission for a portrait made him a small profit. On the proceeds, Giacometti travelled to Rome and Naples. In 1894 he got to meet his longtime idol, Gianni Segantini, with whom he formed a deep and lasting fri-endship. Giacometti was invited to help Segantini with a mural for the Swiss pavilion at the world exhibition in Paris in 1900. But, again, he ran out of mon-ey. In 1900 he married Annetta Stampa and settled in Borgonovo, where his son, Alberto, was born in 1901, followed by three other children.

Giacometti was a dedicated impressionist, even to the point of
painting his Swiss snowscapes out in the cold wind and snow.
In 1912 Giacometti was invited to exhibit in Dresden with artists of the "Der Brücke". In the same year, Giacometti had a large success with an exhibition in the "Kunsthaus" in Zurich. In 1920 his works were exhibited in Bern, followed by several other international solo-exhibitions. The last years, the artist spent in the quiet of Stampa. Giovanni Giacometti is regarded as mediator of modern French and Italian art assets. He made a substantial contribution to the renewal of Swiss painting in the 20th-century. Along with Cuno Amiet, Giovanni Giacometti belongs to the representatives of Swiss Colorism." He died in June, 1933 at the age of sixty-five.

The Card Players, Giovanni Giacometti, work reminiscent of Cezanne.
Cows in a Mountain Landscape,
Giovanni Giacometti.

The sons' art was nothing like that
of their father. They should have
fed their pets better.


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