“Everything was covered in plaster—the walls, the floors, the ceiling and the first I saw him, he himself was a walking Egyptian mummy, entirely white, covered in white plaster,” the Philadelphia-born Barbara Chase-Riboud recalled of her 1962 visit to the Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti’s Montparnasse studio. It was the first encounter between two expatriates from different generations, who had made Paris their home. The last time they met each other was in Milan a few years later, not long before Giacometti’s death. The Encounter: Barbara Chase-Riboud/Alberto Giacometti explores the common ground between two sculptors who looked to the past in order to reimagine the art of their time.
In their sculptures, Chase-Riboud and Giacometti both returned again and again to the human form. Giacometti often started with clay, modeling his works by hand before casting them in plaster. Chase-Riboud, who also became an acclaimed poet and novelist, favored the ancient lost-wax casting method for her bronzes, combining them with knotted and braided fiber, wool, or silk. This exhibition includes five plaster sculptures (which are traveling to the US for the first time) from Giacometti’s landmark Femmes de Venise (Women of Venice), made for the 1956 Venice Biennale, alongside works from across Chase-Riboud’s seven-decade career. Her early bronze sculptures, like The Couple (1963), will appear with other works from the 1970s on, including All That Rises Must Converge (1973), embodying Chase-Riboud’s idea that “sculpture must not sit still.”
The exhibition is co-organized by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Fondation Giacometti, Paris. Organized by Christophe Cherix, The Robert Lehman Foundation Chief Curator of Drawings and Prints, The Museum of Modern Art, and Emilie Bouvard, Scientific and Collections Director, Fondation Giacometti, Paris, with Danielle Johnson, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Drawings and Prints, The Museum of Modern Art. Thanks to Erin Jenoa Gilbert, Director of Exhibitions, Publications and Acquisitions for Barbara Chase-Riboud.