Alberto Giacometti - Portrait de Marguerite Maeght

Portrait of Marguerite Maeght, 1961

“I detest having to cover a canvas. Anyway it is impossible to truly finish anything”, the artist told the writer James Lord one day.

Of the three portraits of Marguerite Maeght he painted the same year, the unfinished look of this one illustrates this observation well. Drawing which the artist believes is “the basis of everything”, suggests here more than he describes it a silhouette seated face on, hands crossed on the knees. The body barely started only extends to set the spatial arrangement of the head, which is on the other hand highly detailed, with coverings and lattices of lines.

Alberto Giacometti (1901 - 1966)

Alberto had my mother pose for several large size paintings, which are among the greatest of his work. Like most of the gallery’s artists, Alberto adored Guiguite. He loved her humour – although it was fierce on occasion – her intelligence, sharpmindedness, cutting discernment, energy, realist side, sense of friendliness, mischievous look and, of course… her cooking. She could allow herself to be things with Alberto that others would have never dared. One day, for a Giacometti preview, my mother asked me to go and buy a jacket for Alberto. He grumbled at first, but ultimately came with me to choose a suit. On the evening of his preview, Alberto arrived at the gallery wearing his new suit, but it was covered in plaster. In some respects he wanted to make Guiguite happy, all while demonstrating his independence. There was an entertaining side that made my mother smile… The portraits Alberto Giacometti painted of my mother were very unsettling. They were even disturbing because although they were painted in 1961, my mother’s face is that of the day she died in 1977, her whole soul is represented. Had Giacometti not succeeded in achieving what he was constantly looking for here, to give life to a face? Adrien Maeght

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