Peter Lindbergh and Alberto Giacometti

by Sarah Moroz, February 2019

“A portrait is never the person,” Peter Lindbergh once wrote. “What is captured, I think, is your relationship with the person.” This premise—that the subject beheld is a prism through which one may understand the beholder, as much as vice versa—grounds an exhibition that couples visions separated by a fifty-year gap: that of the aforementioned German-born photographer, known for his unretouched, pared-down images of models and actresses, and that of the Swiss-born sculptor Alberto Giacometti, who studied under Antoine Bourdelle and mingled with the Surrealist avant-garde. The exhibition features some sixty works by both artists. >Both men honor the complexity of their subjects through a decidedly essence-seeking portraiture. The Fondation Giacometti, an umbrella organization of the recently opened Institute, invited Lindbergh to photograph the sculptor’s work in 2017. Using simply a table and a tarp, he posed and shot Giacometti’s bronze and plaster silhouettes in a large-scale format. But it is when Lindbergh’s fashion editorials and celebrity portraits flank Giacometti’s archival notebook sketches that the tie between the two artists becomes genuinely striking. The formal parallels are often uncanny. The fine lines in a 2003 photograph of Jeanne Moreau echo the gestural frenzy of Giacometti’s ballpoint-pen portrait of his wife, Annette, scrawled (circa 1959) on an invitation card from art dealer Daniel Cordier. Similarly, a 1997 photograph commissioned by Vogue that finds a nude, unembellished Karen Elson clasping her knee—shoulders jutting forward, gaze unwavering—has a clear kinship with Giacometti’s Crouching Woman, 1959–60, his draftsmanship conveying at once wildness and mastery of line. Both men honor the complexity of their subjects through a decidedly essence-seeking portraiture, but this exhibition offers something new through their works’ unlikely mutual resonance.