The Swiss Pavilion at 2017 Venice Biennale to Pay Homage to Alberto Giacometti

The sculptor never wanted to represent Switzerland in Venice.

Swiss Pavilion 1952. Swiss Federal Archives. Courtesy ©Fotografia FERRUZI S.R.L. / Swiss Pavilion 1952
Swiss Pavilion 1952. Swiss Federal Archives. Courtesy ©Fotografia FERRUZI S.R.L. / Swiss Pavilion 1952

Swiss curator Philipp Kaiser and the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia have announced the focus of the exhibition that will be presented in the Swiss Pavilion at the 57th Venice Art Biennale in 2017. Titled “Women of Venice,” the display is conceived of as a tribute to Alberto Giacometti with artworks by contemporary artists.

The list of artists to produce new works for the presentation will be revealed before the end of the year, according to the statement, and the commissioned works will center on Giacometti’s heritage and universe. By focusing on one of Switzerland’s most important art figures, Kaiser aims to explore concepts of national identity and contexts of cultural policy.

One of the most influential Swiss artists of the 20th century, Giacometti himself was never included in the Venice Biennale—by choice. Giacometti, who saw himself as an international artist, was repeatedly asked to represent Switzerland with an exhibition in Venice, but regularly declined. His rejection of the idea of an artist’s national identity was in fact so strong that even when his brother, the architect Bruno Giacometti, built the new Swiss Pavilion in 1952, Alberto turned down yet another invitation, and suggested a different artist instead.

However, in 1956, he finally consented to put on display a group of cast figures entitled “Femme de Venise” in the French Pavilion. As a form of international recognition for his oeuvre, he was awarded the Grand Prix for Sculpture in Venice in 1962, a few years before his death.

The 57th International Art Exhibition–La Biennale di Venezia takes place from May 13 – November 26, 2017.


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