The Modern World During and After the World Wars, C. 1914–1960

European Art After World War II

Who was Alberto Giacometti?

Alberto Giacometti (1901–1966) was a sculptor and painter born in the Italian-speaking portion of Switzerland. During his early career, he gained critical acclaim for his Surrealist sculpture, and he was a formal member of the surrealists until he left in the 1930s. Giacometti was inspired by the philosophy of Existentialism and was friends with the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, who even wrote a catalogue preface for one of Giacometti’s Paris shows. His now iconic sculptures of bronze, skeletal human figures have been interpreted in relation to the state of society after the devastation of World War II. Interested in the experience of perception, Giacometti’s lurching sculptures have also been described as “shadows” of the human form. In recent art auctions, his work has fetched tens of millions of dollars.

The work of artist Francis Bacon has been described as both magical realist and existentialist. His paintings often communicate themes of psychological horror, as in 1973’s Self Portrait with a Watch (Art courtesy The Art Archive, © 2013 The Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved. / ARS, New York/DACS, London:)


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Art History Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App