Home Historical art “We want the spirit of the workshop to be the DNA of our project”: the director of the Giacometti Foundation presents the plans for a new museum in Paris

“We want the spirit of the workshop to be the DNA of our project”: the director of the Giacometti Foundation presents the plans for a new museum in Paris

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The city of Paris has a brand new museum dedicated to the life and work of the Swiss surrealist sculptor Alberto Giacometti. Opened in 2026 at the former Invalides station and in the basement of the esplanade, the Giacometti Museum-School will be the new headquarters of the Giacometti Foundation, which has the world’s largest collection of works by the artist.

“The foundation has a fantastic collection – huge, huge, huge – but it was all in storage. Giacometti’s widow, Annette, kept everything she had inherited from her husband, but she didn’t have the money for a space,” foundation director Catherine Grenier told Artnet News, noting that the 10,000-item collection includes not just sculptures, but paintings, prints, drawings, and even decorative art by the artist, as well as photographs. and archival documents.

“We have a very large collection of Giacometti masterpieces from all eras. With each sculpture, he kept an edition for himself,” Grenier said. “There are fantastic examples from the surrealist period, like hanging ball and The invisible objectas well as Giacometti’s most popular post-war works, including The walking man and The nose.”

Grenier also noted that the foundation has 550 rare plaster sculptures by the artist, fragile works that were not prized by collectors during his lifetime compared to the more durable bronze. “Today they are considered perhaps the most beautiful, in a way, and the most expensive too.”

When Grenier took over running the organization in 2014, she made finding a physical home a priority, securing a 3,700 square foot space in the Montparnasse neighborhood where Giacometti lived and worked. The Giacometti Institute opened in 2018, with a large-scale reconstruction of the artist’s studio as he left it when he died in 1966. (It will be moved to the new museum.)

The Gare des Invalides in Paris, recently the headquarters of Air France, will become the Musée-Ecole Giacometti. Photo: Luc Castel.

“If you look at the pictures of his workshop, you will see how stacked it was with multiple works and tools,” Grenier said. “Giacometti loved working in an environment with pieces from all periods of his career around him. He worked very early, when he was only 16 or 17 years old.

At the current location of the foundation, the recreated studio occupied a significant portion of the space, and the need for expansion became apparent almost immediately. A plan to move to Paris’ former Saint-Vincent-de-Paul hospital fell through in 2019, jeopardizing the foundation’s ability to stay in Paris long-term.

That’s when French telecom billionaire and art collector Xavier Niel stepped in, helping to involve the foundation in a project to redevelop the old train station. (He’s also said to be opening his own cultural foundation at the city’s historic Lambert Hotel, which he bought in February.)

Alberto Giacometti in his studio [Alberto Giacometti in his Studio] - Photo Collection Ernst Sheidegger Giacometti Foundation, Paris © Succession Giacometti (Giacometti Foundation + ADAGP) Paris 2018

Alberto Giacometti in his studio. Photo: courtesy of the Ernst Sheidegger Collection, Giacometti Foundation, Paris. © Succession Giacometti (Giacometti Foundation + ADAGP), Paris, 2018.

The city had already launched an open call for projects for the redevelopment of the station, selecting a project from property developers Groupe Emerige and Nexity.

Niel’s firm, NJJ Holding, had been tapped to carry out renovations to the space as it underwent an overhaul from architects Dominique Perrault and Pierre-Antoine Gatier, and landscape designer Louis Benech, but the project lacked a cultural tenant until he suggests teaming up. with the Giacometti Foundation.

Built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900 and designed by the architect Juste Lisch, the building ceased its activities as a station after the Second World War and became the headquarters of Air France. The airline left in early July and Group Emerige and Nexity now have a 50-year lease with the city, although the esplanade gardens will first host the archery competitions of the Summer Olympics in 2024 in Paris.

The nearly 20,000 square foot space is built in the style of a greenhouse, providing incredible natural light. The exhibition galleries will house a permanent showcase for hundreds of examples of Giacometti’s work, envisioned as a kind of cycling retrospective.

“It’s a fantastic location in the center of Paris,” Grenier said, citing its proximity to other major cultural sites, such as the Grand Palais, the Petit Palais, the Hotel des Invalides and the Rodin Museum.

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<p id=The bronze sculpture The nose Where The nose by Alberto Giacometti casting a shadow at the Schirn Art Hall in Frankfurt/Main, Germany. Photo: Boris Roessler/picture alliance via Getty Images.

There will also be space for temporary exhibitions, where Grenier hopes to offer programming featuring works by Giacometti’s contemporaries, including writers, photographers and philosophers, as well as artists following in his footsteps today. .

In addition, the public will be able to visit the archives and the library of the foundation, relax in the green courtyard, visit new restaurants and a bookstore. Admission will be comparable to other Parisian art institutions.

The foundation will also offer art classes at the School of Creation for All, which, inspired by Giacometti’s open studio policy, accepts students of all levels of ability and expertise, whether they wish to sign up for a one-year course or a few lessons. . There will also be tuition assistance for those with limited economic means.

“His studio was always open, there was no lock. And people always came because people were fascinated,” Grenier said. “Giacometti would create amazing work inside this very simple place, and that’s something we want to recreate at the museum. We want the spirit of the studio to be the DNA of our project.

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