Isabel Rawsthorne, Male Baboon c.1964 . Tate . © Warwick Llewellyn Nicholas Estate (DACS)  

Room 8 in Spotlights

Alberto Giacometti and Isabel Rawsthorne, a Conversation

Alberto Giacometti, Bust of Diego  1955

From the mid-1950s, Giacometti concentrated on portraiture, repeatedly drawing and sculpting his immediate circle of friends and family. His brother Diego, who sat for this bust, was one of his most frequent models. The flattened head allows Giacometti to accentuate the profile, reminiscent of ancient Egyptian figures, yet also convey the psychological intensity of the face viewed from the front.

Gallery label, July 2008

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artworks in Alberto Giacometti and Isabel Rawsthorne, a Conversation

Alberto Giacometti, Bust of Annette IV  1962, cast 1965

This work belongs to a series of eight busts that Giacometti made of his wife Annette from 1962 to 1965. Although Annette was one of his most frequent sitters, Giacometti found himself approaching her anew each time she posed. The surfaces of the sculptures were heavily worked and he commented that ‘after three days of working she doesn’t resemble herself any more’. Giacometti’s obsessive approach to his work is reflected in his observation that ‘It’s rather an unusual thing for a person to spend more of his time trying to copy a head than living life’.

Gallery label, July 2008

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artworks in Alberto Giacometti and Isabel Rawsthorne, a Conversation

Alberto Giacometti, Tall Figure II  1948–9

Giacometti’s fragile, elongated figures were seen as reflecting the precariousness and absurdity of life in the inhospitable landscape of war-scarred Europe. For his part, Giacometti insisted that he was attempting to convey his own experience of looking at people. However, this concern with visual truth was always fraught with uncertainty and doubt. He often reworked his sculpture over long periods before casting them in bronze, building up the clay model, then stripping it down, rebuilding and stripping again, as he gradually eroded the outline of the body to its essential core.

Gallery label, December 2005

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artworks in Alberto Giacometti and Isabel Rawsthorne, a Conversation

Isabel Rawsthorne, Male Baboon  c.1964

Male Baboon c.1964 is an oil painting on canvas by the British artist Isabel Rawsthorne (also known as Isabel Lambert). It depicts the dun-coloured ape in profile; his face appears to be simultaneously seen from the side and turned around to regard the viewer. The word ‘baboon’ is scratched into the paint in the foreground of the work. The hunched form of the animal suggests a state of embattlement and lines in the background indicate that he may be caged. The baboon’s form is created by texture as much as by colour and contour, and the thick paint layers form a low relief. The painting can be considered a pair with the contemporaneous Baboon and Child c.1964 (Tate T14121) which represented a female ape and her offspring.

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artworks in Alberto Giacometti and Isabel Rawsthorne, a Conversation

Isabel Rawsthorne, Baboon and Child  c.1964

Baboon and Child c.1964 is an oil painting on canvas by the British artist Isabel Rawsthorne (also known as Isabel Lambert). It depicts a pale female ape in profile, her form echoed by an infant which is enclosed womb-like within the outline of her body. Both animals are in attitudes of embattlement and may be caged. The forms are created by texture as much as by colour and contour, and the thick paint layers form a low relief. The painting can be considered a pair with the contemporaneous Male Baboon c.1964 (Tate T14120).

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artworks in Alberto Giacometti and Isabel Rawsthorne, a Conversation

Alberto Giacometti, Walking Woman I  1932–3–1936, cast 1966

Giacometti joined the Surrealist group in 1931, when he was making disturbing and mysterious sculptures. The elongated forms of this figure echo ancient Egyptian and Greek art, but the fragmentary body is presented walking, as if encountered in a dream. At one stage, a head and feather-arms were added to the original plaster version. Giacometti removed them in recognition of the greater power of the simplified form.

Gallery label, July 2008

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artworks in Alberto Giacometti and Isabel Rawsthorne, a Conversation

Alberto Giacometti, Bust of a Man (known as Chiavenna I)  1964

This portrait of Giacometti's brother Diego was made from memory. Like many of the portrait busts from the last few years of Giacometti's life, it shows a heightened interest in the eyes of the subject, creating a gaze that is penetratingly intense. 'If I can hold the look in the eyes, everything else follows', Giacometti explained. Chiavenna was the small Italian town in which the sculptures were cast.

Gallery label, August 2004

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artworks in Alberto Giacometti and Isabel Rawsthorne, a Conversation

Isabel Rawsthorne, View through a Window II  1967

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artworks in Alberto Giacometti and Isabel Rawsthorne, a Conversation

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Isabel Rawsthorne, Hare  c.1950

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Isabel Rawsthorne, Head and reflected Glass  c.1967

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Isabel Rawsthorne, Sparrowhawk  c.1990

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Isabel Rawsthorne, Figure in a Landscape  c.1965

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Isabel Rawsthorne, Two Birds and a Fish  c.1948

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Isabel Rawsthorne, Head with a Rose (self-portrait)  1965–1968

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artworks in Alberto Giacometti and Isabel Rawsthorne, a Conversation

Art in this room

T00774: Bust of Diego
Alberto Giacometti Bust of Diego 1955
T00778: Bust of Annette IV
Alberto Giacometti Bust of Annette IV 1962, cast 1965
T00780: Tall Figure II
Alberto Giacometti Tall Figure II 1948–9
T14120: Male Baboon
Isabel Rawsthorne Male Baboon c.1964
T14121: Baboon and Child
Isabel Rawsthorne Baboon and Child c.1964
T01519: Walking Woman I
Alberto Giacometti Walking Woman I 1932–3–1936, cast 1966

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