During the 1950s and 1960s, the artist's younger brother Diego was the primary model for Alberto's numerous portrait variations. Diego moved to Paris in the late 1920s and in 1929 joined his brother as an assistant and partner. Diego arranged the casting of his bronzes and worked many of the patinas, while Alberto himself extensively worked the surface of his plaster models to grant the portraits a more immediate and expressive vitality.
These sculpted portraits gave the artist an opportunity to express not only the character of his sitter, in this case Diego, but also a means through which he could proffer an expression of his own personality. The bronzes from 1954 are among Giacometti's most well-known and powerful works. Yves Bonnefoy wrote:
These are the facts... These sculpted faces compel one to face them as if one were speaking to the person, meeting his eyes and thereby understanding better the compression, the narrowing that Giacometti imposed on the chin or the nose or the general shape of the skull. This was the period when Giacometti was most strongly conscious of the fact that the inside of the plaster or clay mass which he modelled was something inert, undifferentiated, nocturnal, that it betrays the life he sought to represent, and that he must therefore strive to eliminate this purely spatial dimension by constricting the material to fit the most prominent characteristics of the face. This is exactly what he achieves with amazing vigour when, occasionally, he gave Diego's face a blade-like narrowness -- drawing seems to have eliminated the plaster, the head has escaped from space -- and demands therefore that the spectator standing in front of the sculpture as he did himself, disregarding the back and sides of his model and as bound to a face to face relationship as in the case of work at an easel (Y. Bonnefoy, op. cit., pp. 432 and 436).