MCBA conserves many oil paintings and drawings by Giovanni Giacometti, a major artist from the turn of the 20th century and a faithful friend of one of the institution’s great donors, the Lausanne physician Henri-Auguste Widmer. By putting on display an exceptional group of watercolors, all of them privately owned and almost all unknown outside their home, MCBA is inviting us to discover a lesser known side of Giovanni Giacometti’s remarkable body of work.
Giovanni Giacometti (Stampa, 1868 – Glion, 1933) practiced watercolor throughout his life. As with his oil paintings, he found most of his subjects in the landscapes of his native region, Val Bregaglia and Engadin in the Canton of Graubünden. Still another source of inspiration were the members of his family going about their daily activities, as were local women and men busy working in the fields or fishing.
The artist turned to watercolor for commissioned works as well. Over the years he would produce in this exacting medium postcards promoting tourism in Graubünden, posters for exhibitions, and illustrations for a variety of books, including children’s stories and travel accounts for adult readers.
The artist proved uncommonly bold in his use of color and that audacity is instantly apparent. Giacometti masterfully combines a number of effects that watercolor allows, transparency, gradations of color, a monochrome treatment of motifs. He freed himself from merely imitating the world’s colors to forge his own harmonies.
Exhibition curators: Camille de Alencastro and Camille Lévêque-Claudet