Masterpieces from the Maeght Foundation, Verona, November 16th, 2019 – April 5th, 2020.
The exhibition held in the Scaligero capital – Verona – is truly interesting, due to the fact that it is not focused exclusively on the sculptor Alberto Giacometti, but on his relationship with the context of the era, in particular at the turn of the 20th century. The works presented come mainly from the Marguerite and Aimé Maeght Foundation. The curator is Marco Goldin who for years has offered us spectacular exhibitions. In addition to the Foundation’s works, there are pieces from other private collections.
Consequently, many works are little known to the general public but of great value. The venue is prestigious – the palace of the Gran Guardia, a vast building from the 1600s, designed by a student of Sanmicheli to protect troops during bad weather. The 13 arches of the lower floor recall the Arena di Verona and indeed many stones come from the Roman amphitheatre. Together with about 70 works by the master Giacometti, there are about twenty pieces by leading artists who were part of the Parisian artistic environment in which the sculptor worked and lived – including Braque, Chagall, Kandinsky, and Miró – artists who changed the aesthetic standards of 20th century. In fact, the curators’ idea was not to create a retrospective exhibit, but rather a “choral story”.
This meant reconstructing together with Giacometti’s visual universe the whole system of relationships and emotions that came to him from his relationships with other artists. Within this system, the Maeght art merchants, as well as collectors and publishers, acted as catalysts for this energy. Their gallery, opened in Paris in 1945, was a meeting place where partners encouraged these artists to experiment, gave advice, and put them in contact with the buyers.
The strength of their artistic mediation was in being able to create a point of reference for artists of different generations and with the most different artistic viewpoints, at a time when the galleries were usually monothematic. In the case of Giacometti, it was precisely the exhibitions organized by Aimé in the gallery that helped launch him into the artistic spotlight as one of the most interesting artists of the time. In fact, the Foundation has one of the master’s largest collections. In this exhibit, there are not only the sculptures by Giacometti – for which he is universally known – but also paintings and drawings, which aim to give a thorough image of the Swiss artist, going beyond typical stereotypes.
He is famous for the thread-like figures that walk, a symbol of man that goes through the tragedies of the 20th century. They are dried up and essential human forms, not static, because man cannot escape his destiny, and must simply move forward. The highlight of the exhibition is the Donna di Venezia [Women of Venice] series, 9 plaster sculptures reproducing the body of a very tall and thread-like woman that were presented at the 1956 Venice Biennale. This is the second time that the works are presented together after the Tate exhibition in London in 2017. The event is also an opportunity to explore the personal story of the Maeght family, whose commitment, generosity and foresight allow us today to enjoy the jewel that is the Foundation named after them in the south of France.
However, the chain of events that had led to its creation was actually a tragedy, the death of his son. Following that ordeal, they closed the Parisian gallery and. In 1964, apparently following Braque’s idea (the painter who together with Picasso elaborated Cubism), they created a villa with huge open spaces that becomes a reference point for all the artists innovators of the time in Europe. The realisation was entrusted to Josep Lluís Sert, who had worked with Le Corbusier. The architect was supported by the suggestions and ideas of numerous artists, creating an environment that was an artistic laboratory, a forum for debates and an exchange of ideas. However, this was also a gallery where artists could exhibit their works or create spaces for their creativity, such as the Giacometti courtyard. The exhibition’s goal is that of inclusiveness, offering tactile-sensorial pathways for the blind, which will allow visitors to touch the works of art and see their contours with their hands.
Anna Maria Calabretta