Giacometti in Paris: A Life

Summary

Today the work of Alberto Giacometti is world-famous and his sculptures sell for record-breaking prices. But from his early days as an unknown outsider to the end of a dramatic international career, Giacometti lived in the same hovel of a studio in Paris. It was Paris that made him, and he in turn immortalised the city through his art.

Arriving in Paris from the Swiss Alps in 1922, Giacometti was shaped not only by his relationships with remarkable artists and writers – from Picasso, Breton and Dalí to Sartre, Beauvoir and Beckett – but by the everyday life, pre-war and post-war, of Paris itself. His distinctive figures emerged from the city’s unique atmosphere: the crumbling grey stone of its humbler streets and the café-terraces buzzing with radical ideas and racy gossip.

In Giacometti in Paris, Michael Peppiatt, who spent thirty years documenting the Parisian art world and mixing with many of the people Giacometti knew, brilliantly charts the course of the artist’s life and work. From falling in and out with the Surrealists to years of artistic anguish, from devotion to his mother to intense friendships, tragic love affairs and a fraught marriage, this is an intimate portrait of an outstanding artist in exceptional times.

Availability

The book was released in April and is available from Bloomsbury and Amazon UK.

Reviews

‘Marvellous . . . intimate and insightful . . . reads like a novel by Samuel Beckett’, Paul Theroux

This is a marvellous book, an intimate and insightful account of the life and work of the uncompromising Giacometti – perverse in every sense and an artistic genius. It reads like a novel, indeed a novel by Samuel Beckett, who happened to be one of his friends and a man he much resembled — Paul Theroux

We are given Giacometti’s world in all its fascinating detail and humanity, the inhospitable and improbable studio that became iconic, installation art, before the term was invented, the friendships, relationships that were navigated and were influential, the moments of satori in a Paris cinema and the times of doubt and recalibration. It’s all here in memorable and readable form like privileged, intelligent conversation. Michael Peppiatt’s achievement is to never lose sight of the man in confronting the titanic artist that Giacometti was — Hughie O’Donoghue

This book is not only a wonderful portrait of Giacometti, but also of many of his friends and associates. Peppiatt is at home in the whole Paris cultural scene and hops merrily from La Coupole to Les Deux Magots to Café Flore, picking up fascinating details along the way — Lynn Barber ― Spectator

This book is an elegy for two missed things: an artist feted as a genius and the city he chose to live in . . . Giacometti in Paris is rich in anecdotage ― Literary Review

An elegant, authoritative biography – Peppiatt knows his artistic onions, to be sure ― Telegraph

Peppiatt’s telling of Giacometti’s story is insightful and sprightly . . . Paris in the années folles is atmospherically rendered, the scene-painting lively and louche — Laura Freeman, Chief Art Critic ― The Times

Personal and appealingly painterly, this is an immensely readable biography of the man and the city — Hephzibah Anderson ― Observer

[A] vibrant, new account . . . This is a book composed with love, a deep, affectionate admiration for its remarkable if elusive subject. Mr Peppiatt also writes with considerable authority’ — Country Life

Informative, affective, and vibrant . . . Giacometti in Paris is, then, a book as much about the triumphs and the dangers of obsession as anything else ― Arts Desk

Giacometti’s beanpole people became icons of 20th-century art and Michael Peppiatt’s compelling portrait cuts to the core of the sculptor’s “strange life and his stranger fame” . . . Appalling and fascinating. You’ll never look at a Giacometti the same way — Laura Freeman ― The Times: 12 Best Art Books of 2023