Giacometti at Pera Museum

Giacometti at Pera Museum

One of the aces of art history, sculptor and painter Alberto Giacometti’s (1901–1966) first comprehensive exhibition in Turkey has just been opened at Istanbul’s Pera Museum.

This is a very important exhibition that coincides with the museum’s 10th anniversary.

Catherine Grenier is the curator of the exhibition, which contains 123 works: 35 sculptures, 19 paintings, 37 patterns from the “Endless Paris” series, 28 photographs, and four archive documents.

Some artists have such distinguished and unique work that you can recognize them as soon as you see them. Anyone who has seen any of Giacometti’s sculptures, or a photo of these sculptures, would recognize one of his works wherever it is. Only an authentic, unique identity is able to do this.

Giacometti, just like Matisse and Cezanne and other “major” artists, has his own language. The contours of his sculptures prove that he is not only a painter or a sculptor, but also a poet.

What did art critic Ferit Edgü once say? “When Giacometti was painting or making his sculpture, he worked from the model sitting across from him. His aim was to capture the ‘realness of the model’ and make it visible.”

In the show at the Pera Museum we are able to see the changes through different phases of his life. He worked for a time with the Surrealists, but he was expelled from the group because he was still working with a model.

Even though he repeatedly used people close to him - his wife, his mistress, his friends, his siblings - as models, each time he had to observe his model for a long, long period of time before starting his work.

Ferit Edgü tells the following anecdote: After a very long working day, Giacometti could not take his eyes off his wife at dinner. His wife asked, “What happened? Why are you looking this way?” He replied, “Today, I am seeing you for the first time.”

Looking and seeing, seeing and perceiving are two different skills. Actually they are two completely different processes.

In fact, the sculptures and paintings in the exhibition that you think look like each other are actually totally different.

An important source that I should mention at this point is the book by another master Jean Genet, “Giacometti’s Workshop,” which depicts the artist and his world…

Healing in Byzantium

After visiting Giacometti’s exhibition, you should also visit another important exhibition at the museum. I think you will be “healed” by it.

Health is a topic that humankind has been interested in throughout history.

What happened in history on this subject? Who made art out of it? What different opinions have there been? What has remained of them today? How did people view health in those times? I have always been curious.

Curator Dr. Brigitte Pitarakis has named the exhibition “Life Is Short, Art Long: The Art of Healing in Byzantium,” which is a unique and genuinely interesting show both in content and in visuals.

Belief, magic and medicine in the Byzantium period are shown with iconographic art examples with tools, sculptures, reliefs and inscriptions.

For some at the time, the main reason of illnesses was the devil; others viewed it from a modern medical point of view. Depictions of how Jesus healed many diseases miraculously take up an important part of the exhibition.

In sum, I recommend that you include the Pera Museum, celebrating its 10th anniversary with two important exhibitions, in your weekend program.