A holiday romance

On my recent holiday in Switzerland I fell in love – with the work of Augusto Giacometti, a Swiss painter  (16 August 1877 – 9 June 1947). One of the prolific Giacometti family, he was a cousin of Giovanni Giacometti, who was father of Alberto, Diego and Bruno Giacometti.

I first found his work in the Bündner Kunstmuseum Chur where the collection includes this striking painting:

Starry Sky 1917

I love the way that he layers paint using small smudges of colour. According to the German Wikipedia entry, his gravestone reads “Meister der Farbe” or “Master of Colour”. In 2014 and 2015 the Kunstmuseum Bern hosted an exhibition of his work, titled “Colour and I”.

Inspired by the flowers of the Swiss countryside, he has been credited with being the first abstract painter as is wonderfully evident in this painting:

Fantasy over a Potato Blossom 1917

I was also rather taken with this painting of a brook, in which he manages to create the foaming water with shades of grey and white and delicate foliage with tiny dots of paint. (Unfortunately I did not take down the title or the date, and have not been able to find them online.)


But I was totally smitten after I encountered Rainbow, in the Kunst Museum Bern. It’s hard to do justice to this painting with an electronic picture. It’s large and the colours of the rainbow are clearer (particularly the orange layer of the rainbow). There are delicate, textured shades of grey to white around and within the rainbow. I was as entranced as the two figures in the foreground of the painting.

Rainbow, 1916

Augusto Giacometti is also well-known for stained-glass work, but there is little information about him available in English, which is a terrible pity. The easiest place to see more of his paintings is at the athenaeum.

I came home with a copy of “Farbe und Ich” which accompanied the Bern exhibition, a collection of essays and prints of his work. I’ve been pouring over it, labouriously translating the German and soaking up the pictures, and its every bit as exhilarating as reading love-letters from a holiday romance.

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