Alberto Giacometti

Woman of Venice IX


Not on display

Alberto Giacometti 1901–1966
Original title
Femme de Venise IX
Object: 1130 × 165 × 346 mm
Purchased 1959

Display caption

In the 1940s Giacometti began to make tall, emaciated figures with roughly defined outlines, which appear to represent the human figure seen from a distance. He explained that when he made large figures, they seemed ‘false’. It was only when he portrayed them as ‘long and slender’ that they seemed true to his vision of humanity. Venice Woman IX was the last of a group of standing female figures made by Giacometti for the French Pavilion of the 1956 Venice Biennale.

Gallery label, December 2005

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Catalogue entry

Alberto Giacometti 1901-1966

T00238 Femme de Venise IX (Woman for Venice IX) 1956

Inscribed 'Alberto Giacomerri | 0/6' l. side of base and 'Susse Fondr. Paris' on back of base
Bronze, 44 1/2 x 6 1/2 x 13 5/8 (113 x 16.5 x 34.5)
Purchased from the artist through the Galerie Maeght, Paris (Knapping Fund and Grant-in-Aid) 1959
Exh: Twelve Views of Mankind, MacRobert Centre Art Gallery, Stirling, March-April 1974 (works not numbered, repr.)
Lit: Maria Netter, 'Alberto Giacometri in der Kunsthalle Bern' in The Weltwoche, 29 June 1956, p.15; David Sylvester, 'Giacometti: an Inability to tinker' in The Sunday Times Magazine, 4 July 1965, pp.23, 25; Reinhold Hohl, Alberto Giacometti: Sculpture Painting Drawing (London 1972), pp.142-3, 281 and 298, repr. p.119 (third figure from right)
Repr: Studio, CLIX, 1960, p.109

Giacometti frequently worked on his sculptures over long periods, building them up, stripping them down again, rebuilding and stripping, over and over again until the time came when he had to release work for an exhibition or to meet a commitment to a dealer.

David Sylvester has described as follows the genesis of the series of ten standing figures prepared for the 1956 Venice Biennale: 'Giacometti worked on a single standing figure throughout the early part of 1956 using the same armature and the same clay: his usual procedure. This time, on days when he liked what he had done, he had a plaster cast made of that state of the figure before carrying on. The ten figures that were preserved in bronze were a selection of these states, The last of the states was no more definitive than its predecessors.'

The ten figures were exhibited in plaster in the French pavilion at the Venice Biennale, in two groups of four and six, while another five 'Women for Venice', since destroyed, were included in his concurrent retrospective exhibition at the Kunsthalle in Bern.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.281, reproduced p.281


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