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Exhibition at Museum de Fundatie includes more than 150 works by Alberto Giacometti and Lynn Chadwick
Installation view.

ZWOLLE.- Museum de Fundatie is presenting a new exhibition entitled Giacometti-Chadwick, Facing Fear, running from 22 September 2018 to 6 January 2019. The sculptures of Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966) and Lynn Chadwick (1914-2003) are manifestations of the sense of fear and disillusionment that pervaded Europe during the Cold War period. Their work bids a final farewell to pre-war romanticism and aestheticism, and lands with both feet in the raw reality of the post-war world. While Giacometti reduced the human form to its bare essentials, Chadwick created powerful archetypal images of both people and animals. The exhibition includes more than 150 works. Never before has the work of Giacometti and Chadwick been so explicitly brought together.

Their paths first crossed in 1956, when Chadwick became the youngest person ever to win the Grand Prix for Sculpture at the Venice Biennale. With only six years’ experience as a sculptor, the British artist snatched the prize from Giacometti, the hot favourite, who was thirteen years older and already a major name in Paris. Giacometti would go on to win the prize in 1962, but which of the two men was awarded it in 1956 is less significant than the fact that these two particular sculptors were the front-runners at that time. Each of them was expressing, in his own individual way, the sense of deep-seated angst that overshadowed day-to-day life in Europe in the fifties and sixties: the fear of a global nuclear disaster that would wipe out human civilisation.

Alberto Giacometti is among the most significant figures in the whole field of modern European sculpture. A member of a notable family of Swiss artists, he moved to Paris in 1922 and would remain there for the rest of his life, working as a sculptor, painter and graphic artist. After training with Émile-Antoine Bourdelle, he discovered modernism and so-called ‘primitive’ ethnographic art of Africa and Oceania. In response to these influences, his work became more abstract. In the early thirties, his Surrealist sculptures expressing subconscious emotions created a furore. From 1935, however, personal psychological tensions triggered a crisis in his life and work that led to a return to the human figure. Initially, his portraits and figures became both increasingly tiny and more and more attenuated. This thinness was to remain the most distinctive feature of Giacometti’s art. After the Second World War, he began to create the elongated, emaciated figures that would bring him worldwide fame. In all their attenuation, they reduce humanity to its very essence and appear both vulnerable and enigmatic.

In the early fifties, up-and-coming artist Lynn Chadwick managed to dislodge Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth from their dominant position in the field of British sculpture. Born in London, Chadwick had started his career as a technical draughtsman and exhibition stand designer. He took an equally constructional approach to his sculpture: rather than model his human and animal figures in clay or wax, he constructed them by welding steel rods together to create an armature and then filling in the gaps with a kind of cement. The angularity of the work being produced by him and other young British artists was described in 1952 as ‘the geometry of fear’, a reference to the constant dread of nuclear annihilation. Chadwick’s apocalyptic Dancers and stoical Watchers gave powerful expression to this sense of angst. From the early seventies, he broadened his repertoire to include subjects that seem to restore the sovereignty of the human spirit. Sculptures like Cloaked Figure and Sitting Couple no longer look threatening, but emanate a sense of composure and invulnerability.

Giacometti’s pre-war work influenced Chadwick’s development and the two men were keenly aware of each other’s presence. In addition to the vast differences, there are also many similarities between their oeuvres. Giacometti-Chadwick, Facing Fear is the product of close cooperation with the Fondation Marguerite et Aimé Maeght in Saint-Paul-de-Vence and the Chadwick Estate and Blain|Southern gallery in London.

The show is accompanied by a catalogue, published by Waanders & de Kunst.

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