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Gagosian Klein Giacometti



Tuesday 10th May


4:00 pm to 5:00 pm

at Gagosian Gallery, 20 Grosvenor Hill, Mayfair, London W1K 3QD.

Price Member (please login) Free
Price Non-Member £20.00




Tuesday 10th May 2016

4:00 pm to 5:00 pm



Gagosian Gallery, 20 Grosvenor Hill, Mayfair, London W1K 3QD



Richard Calvocoressi, former Director of The Henry Moore Foundation since 2007 and former Keeper, and then Director, of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (1987-2007), was originally a curator at the Tate Gallery (1979- 87), where he was responsible for building up the collections of pre – and postwar European art. He also organised major exhibitions of Jean Tinguely (1982) and Oskar Kokoschka (1986). In Scotland he acquired important international collections of dada and surrealist art from the estates of Roland Penrose and Gabrielle Keiller and was instrumental in attracting the Anthony d’Offay gift to Edinburgh and London. In 2004 the SNGMA was awarded the Gulbenkian Museum of the Year Award (now the Art Fund Prize) for its commissioning of Charles Jencks’s Landform. Richard Calvocoressi has also published on various artists including Francis Bacon, Georg Baselitz, Reg Butler, Lucian Freud, Anselm Kiefer, Paul Klee, René Magritte, Lee Miller and Henry Moore. He is an Expert Member of the Comité Magritte, a Member of the Francis Bacon Catalogue Raisonné Committee and a Trustee of The Art Fund. In 2008 he was awarded a CBE for services to the Arts, particularly in Scotland. Richard is now Director and senior curator at the Gagosian Gallery in London.



Larry Gagosian opened his first gallery in Los Angeles in 1980, specializing in modern and contemporary art. Five years later, he expanded his activities to New York, inaugurating his first Chelsea gallery with an exhibition of works from the Pop art collection of Emily and Burton Tremaine. From 1989-1996 he owned a gallery at 65 Thompson Street in Soho with the renowned dealer Leo Castelli, where they showed Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein, Bruce Nauman, and other leading artists of the post-war generation.

In thirty years Gagosian Gallery has evolved into a global network with sixteen exhibition spaces in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, Paris, Rome, Athens, Geneva, and Hong Kong, designed by world-renowned architects including Caruso St John, Richard Gluckman, Richard Meier, Jean Nouvel, Selldorf Architects, and wHY Architecture.

Gagosian’s vibrant contemporary program features the work of leading international artists including Georg Baselitz, Ellen Gallagher, Andreas Gursky, Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, Richard Prince, Anselm Kiefer, Ed Ruscha, Richard Serra, Taryn Simon, Rachel Whiteread, and many others. Additionally, unparalleled historical exhibitions are prepared and presented on the work of legendary artists such as Francis Bacon, Alexander Calder, John Chamberlain, Willem de Kooning, Lucio Fontana, Helen Frankenthaler, Alberto Giacometti, Roy Lichtenstein, Piero Manzoni, Claude Monet, Henry Moore, Jackson Pollock, David Smith, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, and others. A series of groundbreaking Picasso surveys curated by John Richardson has been attended by hundreds of thousands of visitors in New York and London.

The gallery publishes scholarly exhibition catalogues and artist monographs, as well as catalogues raisonnés. Since 2012, an innovative and engaging magazine on the gallery’s art and artists has been published four times per year.




At first glance, Giacometti and Klein, artists born a generation apart, could not be more different: Giacometti was a master of material form, and of the representation of the figure; Klein was an influential theorist whose art married the conceptual with the cosmic. In the 1950s and early 1960s, the two artists lived and worked within a mile of each other, in Montparnasse, Paris, but there are few clues in their work to suggest that they shared the same artistic milieu. What they did have in common was an acute consciousness of the catastrophic effects of the Second World War and its aftermath on European culture. Each dealt with it in his own way: in his sculptures, Giacometti struggled to evince a vital human presence from nothing; Klein shunned the personal, autobiographical mark, attempting to dematerialise painting to the point of pure saturated colour. Exhibition curator Joachim Pissarro remarks, “Both artists, rather than creating something that reflected the chaos, chose to rise above it, transforming and deciphering it into elegant, lyrical matter.”

In the large, light-filled galleries at Gagosian Grosvenor Hill, Giacometti and Klein will be shown together for the first time. In an ambitious and immersive installation conceived by Pissarro, Giacometti’s nervously modelled figures and heads are confronted by Klein’s intense and expansive colours. Each artist is generously represented by works on loan from the Fondation Alberto Giacometti, the Yves Klein Archives, the Beyeler Foundation, and distinguished private collections. Twenty-five sculptures by Giacometti— including such classics as the hieratic Femme de Venise I (1956), the austere L’homme qui marche I (1960), and the almost comic Le Nez (1947)—will be juxtaposed with as many works from Klein, including Monochromes, Anthropometries, Fire Paintings, and a Sponge Sculpture. It is in the Anthropometries—direct impressions of the naked female body in blue paint on large sheets of paper—that Klein comes closest to Giacometti in his desire to record the human trace, albeit without any overt evidence of his own hand.

The title of the exhibition, “In Search of the Absolute” , originates from an essay on Giacometti by the existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. Sartre wrote that “Giacometti… is forever beginning anew;” that with each sculpture it is “necessary to start again from zero;” and that Giacometti’s images of humanity are “always mediating between nothingness and being.” In the conceptual and working processes of both artists, “nothingness” became “the void,” a space of infinite potential. Giacometti devoted much of his career to the struggle between matter and meaning: how to reduce the figure’s mass as far as possible while imbuing it with essential force; while Klein’s goal was to reinvest the vacuum of nothingness as a void of “blue profundity.”

In this speculative juxtaposition, “In Search of the Absolute” seeks to evoke the differences as well as the affinities between these two groundbreaking artists of the modern period, bringing new light to their aspirations and achievements.

The accompanying publication will include essays by Joachim Pissarro, Cecilia Braschi, and Richard Calvocoressi; interviews by Pissarro with Catherine Grenier and Daniel Moquay; and historical texts—some translated for the first time—by Isaku Yanaihara, Dino Buzzati, and Pierre Descargues; as well as detailed chronologies and a map of Montparnasse dating from the period in which both artists lived there.

This is the third time that Gagosian Gallery has collaborated with the Yves Klein Archives, following earlier exhibitions “Sponge Reliefs” (Gagosian New York, 1989); and “Fire at the Heart of the Void” (Gagosian New York, 1993). Exhibitions of Giacometti’s work have been presented in Europe, the U.S., and Asia with the support of the Fondation Alberto Giacometti, including “Living, Looking, Making” (Gagosian London, 2007); “Isabel and Other Intimate Strangers: Portraits by Alberto Giacometti and Francis Bacon” (Gagosian New York, 2009); “Giacometti in Switzerland” (Gagosian Geneva, 2011); and “Alberto Giacometti: Without End” (Gagosian Hong Kong, 2014).

Alberto Giacometti was born in 1901 in Borgonovo, Switzerland, and died in 1966 in Chur, Switzerland. In 1922, he moved to Paris and studied at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. Recent exhibitions include “Una retrospective,” Colección de la Fundación Alberto y Annette Giacometti, Museo Picasso Málaga, Spain (2011); “The Origin of Space: The Mature Works,” Museum der Moderne, Salzburg, Austria (2011); “Space, Head, Figure,” Musée de Grenoble, France (2013); and “Alberto Giacometti,” Pera Museum, Istanbul (2015). The first retrospective of Giacometti’s work in China opened at the Yuz Museum in Shanghai on March 22.

Yves Klein was born in Nice, France in 1928, and died in 1962 in Paris. He began painting monochromes in 1950, exhibiting them publicly for the first time in Paris in 1955. In 1960, he patented the formula for International Klein Blue. In 1961 he presented “Yves Klein: Monochrome und Feuer,” a major retrospective in Krefeld, Germany. Recent retrospectives include “Yves Klein,” Guggenheim Bilbao (2005); “Body, Colour, Immaterial,” Centre Pompidou (2006-7) and “Yves Klein: With the Void, Full Powers,” Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C. (2010).