Further investigations, presentation of findings, and the organization and hosting of a colloquium on ‘Aesthetic interventions on Giacometti’s plaster sculptures’
June 2012 started with a highlight: The team visited Paris, Alberto Giacometti’s second home. On the first day of the trip, Hubert Lacroix, owner of the Fonderie Susse, gave us a guided tour of his famous foundry. It was here that, from 1953 onwards, Giacometti chose to have his bronze casts produced. We were lucky to see this historical place one last time, because shortly after our visit the foundry moved to another building. The team spent the next couple of days at the Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti. In addition to housing many of Giacometti’s famous sculptures, the Fondation is also the most important source of material relevant to research on Giacometti, such as letters, invoices and photographs. Discussions with director Véronique Wiesinger during our visit enabled us to resolve – at least to a certain extent – several hitherto unsolved questions and areas of speculation. The team returned to Zurich with many new insights and impressions, ready to continue its work on researching Giacometti’s plaster works.
In September 2012 we examined and evaluated our findings of the previous two years. In autumn the results were presented in a small exhibition that was aimed at both experts and laypersons. Besides providing visitors with information on the technical aspects of our findings, the exhibition was also intended to serve as a discussion forum. Discussions held concurrently with the exhibition contributed to the decision-making process for the second part of the project. Up to now the conservators have had access to a rich treasure trove of traces and material from the investigations of more than 70 plaster works. This has helped to clarify questions regarding production processes, and the function and history of the plaster sculptures. In almost all cases it could be established how the plaster works were produced and whether – and if so, how – they were subsequently (re)used by Giacometti or others. Moreover, many technical preferences decided on during the production procedures can now be confirmed. These can be attributed either to Alberto, or his brother Diego (who mainly produced plaster sculptures from clay models), or one of the foundries.
From the beginning of October 2012, these findings and others relating to the artist’s working techniques, subsequent use of plaster forms, material identification and the x-ray investigations were presented together with about a dozen plaster sculptures. The exhibition proved so popular among visitors that after the official closing in February it was reinstalled at a different location in the Kunsthaus, where it is still on show.
Shortly after the opening of this exhibition the team concentrated on another important task: the organisation of a colloquium aimed at presenting the project’s most important findings and its restoration concept to an expert committee. Our primary concern in outlining the restoration concept was to make the decision-making process transparent and comprehensible.
On 25 February 2013, Christoph Becker, Director of the Kunsthaus, opened the colloquium on Giacometti’s plaster sculptures. About 20 specialists from around Europe found their way to Zurich. Colleagues and art historians from Switzerland, Italy and France, as well as members of the Giacometti Foundation in Paris, were welcomed to the colloquium. A PowerPoint presentation in the morning and another in the afternoon informed the participants about the state of research and the next stage of the project. The subsequent discussions were conducted in a passionate but constructive spirit. The whole day was filmed and will form part of the documentation of the project. Ideas and suggestions that arose during this important and very interesting day were subsequently integrated into the restoration concept. In April this concept was presented to, and approved by, the Giacometti Foundation in Zurich.
Between now and the end of the project, the conservation and restoration measures that will be implemented will correspond to those defined in the restoration concept.
Progress report: October 2010 to April 2011
Definition of the main areas of research and systematization of work processes
Beginning of the investigative phase and outlook