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27.11.05

Alberto Giacometti's Little Brother

Diego Giacometti, L'Autruche, or the OstrichOne of those Ionarts things we do is translate articles from foreign-language newspapers. It looks you may be able to get your translations directly now, at least from Le Figaro, which now has an English-language site, Le Figaro English. Unfortunately but not surprisingly, it is not complete, and very few of the Culture articles are in it. So, for now, you will have to keep reading Ionarts if your French is not up to snuff.

An article (Diego Giacometti, le frère oublié, November 25) in Le Figaro made me aware that Alberto Giacometti's younger brother, Diego, was also an artist. A collection of his art will be auctioned on December 14 (my translation and links added):

"The great man was not me, it was Diego," as Alberto Giacometti often said. Nevertheless, he was the one who had the glory, while Diego, his younger brother by 13 months, hid himself to create in the sculptor's shadow. Alberto designed, and Diego executed, separate but indivisible. They both kept the same studio, at 46, rue Hippolyte-Maindron, in Paris. Their collaboration was so close that it is difficult to separate their work. At Alberto's death in 1965, Diego kept working, continuing to elaborate on the stunning bestiary in bronze, stucco, forged iron. Work that was discreet, sensitive, that he signed himself only after 1970, afraid of being thought a usurper.

It is to this "forgotten brother" that Piasa dedicates its December 14 sale at Drouot, with a collection of furniture and sculpture acquired directly from the artist by Jean-Paul Binet. This great professor of surgical pathology at the Paris medical school was also a great art lover. He was friendly with Diego, to the point of becoming the inspiration of one of his most emblematic works, l'Autruche [The ostrich]. The collector commissioned the decoration of two ostrich eggs from Marc Chagall (20,000 to 25,000 €, Le Profil, a signed and dedicated painting) and from Joan Miro (50,000 to 60,000 €, L'Orgueil, watercolor with gouache, dedicated on the back "For Dr. Jean-Paul Binet as a good memory, March 15, 1967, Paris"). For the third, the sculptor imagined this gracious animal as "the ideal support to reveal the value of the object carried."
Diego outlived his brother by many years, dying in 1985. His final major commission was to create the interior decoration of the Musée National Picasso Paris, which sadly opened only a few months after he died. If you know the quirky lighting fixtures and furniture of that museum, that is the work of Diego Giacometti. You can see a few of his other works here.

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