Diego Giacometti

Artisan, sculptor, designer: each word only begins to describe Diego Giacometti’s contributions to visual aesthetics and culture. His striking creations manifest an original mind that united functionality and wonder. Over the course of a long and storied career, Giacometti never stopped striving to create beautiful, useful objects.

Giacometti was born in 1902 in Stampa, a Swiss hamlet in the Bergell Valley. There was no running water or electricity, and the fastest mode of transportation was the stagecoach. ‘It was not even the Middle Ages,’ Giacometti said. ‘It was prehistory.’ He spent his childhood amongst the farm animals and fresh air, but his was also an artistically inclined household: Giovanni, his father, was an Impressionist painter; Giacometti was named for Velázquez; and his brother Alberto would go on to become a celebrated sculptor and artist.

Although Giacometti studied business in Basel and St Gallen, he felt unmoored following graduation. On the advice of his mother, he moved in 1925 to Paris, where his brother was living and making a name for himself within the avant-garde art world. The brothers became inseparable, even sharing a studio in the 14th arrondissement. There, Giacometti assisted his brother by chiselling stone, polishing bronze and serving as a model.

In the mid-1930s, the Giacomettis were commissioned by the leading interior designer Jean-Michel Frank to create several decorative pieces for his shop on the rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. But it was not until World War II, when Alberto returned to Switzerland, that Giacometti began to develop his own practice. Many days were spent at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris, and flora and fauna began to take shape in his sculptures and furniture.

In his melding of form and function, Giacometti drew on a range of influences, both contemporary and antique, personal and observed. Over time, his client base swelled to include the most fashionable, with Giacometti designing pieces for Aimé and Marguerite Maeght and the legendary designer Hubert de Givenchy, among countless others.

In 1984, Giacometti was commissioned by the French State to design a suite of furniture for the opening of the Musée Picasso, Paris. Explaining his selection of Giacometti, the museum’s director Dominque Bozo said, ‘I did not want a clinical, antiseptic, modern museum. I wanted something warm, elegant, above all pas design. I also had to find a link between the decor of the 17th and 18th centuries and Picasso. For a commission like that, I needed someone who is really an artist, who was capable of taking charge of the project and making the link.’ This was to be Giacometti’s valedictory and most important project: the sculptor passed away on 15 July 1985.

ALBERTO GIACOMETTI (1901-1966)

Bouton 'Personnage aux bras levés' monté sur boîte, vers 1935-1939

DIEGO GIACOMETTI (1902-1985)

Teckel, vers 1976

DIEGO GIACOMETTI (1902-1985)

La console 'H ommage à Böcklin'

ALBERTO GIACOMETTI (1901-1966)

OISEAU , VERS 1937

DIEGO GIACOMETTI 1902-1985

Table octogonale aux caryatides et atlantes, vers 1980

DIEGO GIACOMETTI 1902-1985

Grande table octogonale aux caryatides et atlantes, vers 1983

DIEGO GIACOMETTI 1902-1985

Grande table octogonale aux caryatides et atlantes, vers 1983

DIEGO GIACOMETTI 1902-1985

Paire d’ Arbres de vie ou Arbres à l’oiseau et à l'escargot , vers 1968

DIEGO GIACOMETTI 1902-1985

Grande table console aux cerfs, vers 1968

DIEGO GIACOMETTI 1902-1985

Lanterne, vers 1983

Diego Giacometti (1902-1985)

Porte-manteau au hibou

DIEGO GIACOMETTI (1902-1985)

A 'Berceau' Low table, Modèle aux Renards, conceived circa 1975

DIEGO GIACOMETTI (1902-1985)

Grande table basse à deux plateaux aux grenouilles

DIEGO GIACOMETTI 1902-1985

Ensemble de quatre tabourets en X, troisième version, vers 1983

DIEGO GIACOMETTI 1902-1985

Paire de tables basses à la levrette Bucky , coupelle, teckel Lippo et niche, vers 1978

DIEGO GIACOMETTI 1902-1985

Deux tables basses à l’oiseau et coupelle, vers 1970

DIEGO GIACOMETTI (1902-1985)

CONSOLE OISEAU ET COUPELLE , VERS 1976

DIEGO GIACOMETTI (1902-1985)

'Table aux Caryatides', circa 1976

DIEGO GIACOMETTI (1902-1985)

'TABLE-BERCEAU, PREMIÈRE VERSION', LE MODÈLE CRÉÉ VERS 1963

DIEGO GIACOMETTI (1902-1985)

Table d'appoint Boutons , le modèle créé vers 1960, celle-ci réalisée vers 1970-1980

DIEGO GIACOMETTI (1902-1985)

TABLE BASSE RUBAN ARBUSTES , VERS 1976

DIEGO GIACOMETTI 1902-1985

Paire de tables basses aux labradors, vers 1975

DIEGO GIACOMETTI (1902-1985)

Table basse Croix et coupelle , vers 1970-1980

DIEGO GIACOMETTI (1902-1985)

Banc, le modèle créé vers 1970

Diego Giacometti (1902-1985)

Table grecque rectangulaire

DIEGO GIACOMETTI 1902-1985

Paire de photophores, vers 1975

Diego Giacometti (1902-1985)

Table 'aux caryatides'

DIEGO GIACOMETTI (1902-1985)

An 'Arbre Au Hibou' Table, conceived circa 1980

DIEGO GIACOMETTI (1902-1985)

TABLE D'APPOINT BOUTONS , LE MODÈLE CRÉÉ VERS 1960, CET EXEMPLAIRE RÉALISÉ VERS 1970-1980

DIEGO GIACOMETTI 1902-1985

Table aux deux oiseaux et coupelle, vers 1978

DIEGO GIACOMETTI (1902-1985)

Console "La promenade des amis"

DIEGO GIACOMETTI (1902-1985)

Table basse, vers 1970-1980

DIEGO GIACOMETTI 1902-1985

Paire de photophores, vers 1975

DIEGO GIACOMETTI 1902-1985

Paire de photophores au cerf, vers 1970

DIEGO GIACOMETTI (1902-1985)

La paire de fauteuils pommeaux de canne

DIEGO GIACOMETTI 1902-1985

Paire de chenets aux oiseaux, le modèle créé vers 1973

DIEGO GIACOMETTI (1902-1985)

Table basse, vers 1970-1980

DIEGO GIACOMETTI (1902-1985)

'Fauteuil Tête de lionne', circa 1975

Diego Giacometti (1902-1985)

Console 'La promenade des amis'

DIEGO GIACOMETTI (1902-1985)

'CONSOLE À L'OISEAU', PIÈCE UNIQUE, VERS 1970

DIEGO GIACOMETTI (1902-1985)

Table 'Carcasse' à la harpie, 1980-1982

Diego Giacometti (1902-1985)

Porte-manteaux au hibou

DIEGO GIACOMETTI (1902-1985)

La table berceau aux renards

DIEGO GIACOMETTI 1902-1985

Paire de fauteuils aux pommeaux de canne , vers 1963

DIEGO GIACOMETTI (1902-1986)

TROIS FAUTEUILS 'POMMEAUX DE CANNE', LE MODÈLE CRÉÉ VERS 1963

DIEGO GIACOMETTI (1902-1985)

A 'Berceau' Table, Modèle aux Chats, conceived circa 1970

DIEGO GIACOMETTI 1902-1985

Guéridon, le modèle créé en 1962 pour la Fondation Maeght, celui-ci réalisé en 1966 pour la Krönenhalle

Diego Giacometti (1902-1985)

Grande table torsade

DIEGO GIACOMETTI (1902-1985)

Table aux caryatides