Francis Bacon: Portrait of Isabel Rawsthorne Standing in a Street in Soho, 1967. Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie. 1967 acquis par la ville de Berlin. © The Estate of Francis Bacon/2018, ProLitteris, Zurich. Photo: © bpk / Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Jo?rg P. Anders. Lying Figure, 1969. Alberto Giacometti: Boule suspendue, 1930. Kunstmuseum Basel, Depositum de la Fondation Alberto Giacometti © Succession Alberto Giacometti / 2018, ProLitteris, Zurich Photo: © Kunsthaus Zu?rich
Late at night, emerging from the cavernous studio on 46 rue Hippolyte-Maindron, a lonesome figure would inhabit the streets of postwar Paris. In this famously chaotic space, consumed by inner doubts and obsessions, Alberto Giacometti worked relentlessly, with feverish urge to forge a new human; walking away from the rubble of destruction. In London, on the other side of Channel, the younger artist Francis Bacon admired Giacometti from afar, fascinated by the famous sculptor’s aura of intensity and compulsion. In the following years the two went to develop a personal relationship punctuated by both friendship and rivalry. The artist Isabel Rawsthorne was one such connection, a close friend, muse and model to both artists, whose stark portraits feature on several works on display. Special focus, at this exhibition at Fondation Beyeler, is given to investigating their distinct isolation of space; subjects enclosed by means of cage-like entities, foregrounded in key works such as Giacometti’s La Cage (1949-1950) and Bacon’s Study of a Nude (1952). Like Giacometti, Bacon’s arrival to the ‘truth of his subject’ was rooted in failure and frequent moments of crisis; the artistic act an outcome of frenzied and conflicting struggle between artist and his creation. Beyond their obvious differences in terms of style and iconography, both absorbed so much of l’air du temps through which they lived, rendered in the immediacy and emotional charge of their work. Encompassing circa 100 works and numerous original plaster figures from Giacometti that have never been seen before, the exhibition seeks to untangle the complex layers of their relationship. Formulated across four main thematic sections, it reveals new strands of thought connecting the two masters of modern art.