Alberto Giacometti: A final portrait

Roseanna Lane

The distinctive style of the Swiss artist and sculptor Alberto Giacometti has remained a recognisable feature in my life since studying his work at school. However, it is the recent revival of his creations and life in film that has renewed the original love I felt for his work. Being labelled the creator of spindly figures is an absolute injustice to his work in sculpture, painting and print work. As he was a father figure of the Surrealist movement, his life and impact on the art world are just as important.

His captivating creations, including his distinctive elongated figures that are among the most instantly recognisable works of modern art, do not come without an equally inspirational life. Giacometti’s work was inspired by his siblings, and he started to create on a larger scale following his marriage to Annette Arm in 1946. He made an impact on the Surrealist and Cubist movements, cementing his place as a leader in Surrealist sculpture. From worldwide fame to a close friendship with the playwright Samuel Beckett, Giacometti’s impact still resonates with audiences around the world and his work continues to be exhibited throughout Europe and America.

Piazza. Courtesy Saatchi Gallery

Now fifty years on from his death, it is thanks to the impact that his work and life have had across the globe that he remains relevant today. This is the topic of Stanley Tucci’s new film Final Portrait, a must-see this autumn. The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw hails it as ‘a highly entertaining portrait of the two men’ and claims that ‘Tucci’s own directorial brush strokes are bold and invigorating’. Bradshaw’s artistic metaphor to describe the excellence of Tucci’s directorial skills is fitting given the film follows Giacometti’s friendship with the American writer James Lord. The two bond through the power of the portrait, giving an insight into the life of an artist through a behind-the-scenes-style biographical angle.

Ultimately, it’s worth revisiting Giacometti’s past in order to see things in a new light, especially as you get older, and to consider context rather than taking art at face value.  Whilst the recent exhibition at the Tate featuring rarely seen works of Giacometti’s ended in September, you can check out more Giacometti resources on their website or watch Final Portrait, in cinemas now.


Featured image courtesy of

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