Alberto Giacometti was born in Borgonovo, Switzerland in 1901 and grew up in the neighboring town of Stampa. He studied painting at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and sculpture and drawing at the School of Arts and Crafts in Geneva. He traveled to Italy in 1920 and was greatly impressed by the by the works of Alexander Archipenko and Paul Cezanne at the Venice Biennale. He was also influenced by African and Egyptian art and the masterpieces of Goitto and Tintoretto.
In 1922 Giacometti settled in Paris where he studied under the sculptor, Antoine Bourdelle at the Ecole de la Grande Chaumiere. He moved into a studio with his brother, Diego in 1927 and, during the same year, he exhibited his sculpture for the first time at the Salon des Tuileries in Paris. Also in 1927, he had his first show, with his father at the Galerie Aktuaryus in Zurich. By 1930, Gicometti had become acquainted with Andre Masson and, until 1934, he was associated with the Surrealist circle. In 1932 Giacometti had his first solo show in Paris at the Galerie Pierre Colle. His first American solo exhibition opened at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York in 1934.
During the late 1930s, Giacometti’s career was interrupted by the outbreak of war and an accident that left him temporarily injured. During the 1940s, Giacometti became friends with Pablo Picasso, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. In 1942 he moved to Geneva where he was associated with the publisher Albert Skira. Giacometti returned to Paris in 1946 and two years later, he was given a solo show at the Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York. In 1951 he began a friendship with Samuel Beckett and in 1955 he was honored with retrospectives at the Arts Council Gallery in London and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. In 1965 Giacometti was awarded the Grand Prix National des Arts by the French government. During the 1960s, Giacometti’s health had begun to fail and in 1963 he underwent surgery for cancer of the stomach. In 1965 he suffered from heart disease and chronic bronchitis until his death.