How ancient Egyptian art influenced one of Europe’s greatest sculptors

How ancient Egyptian art influenced one of Europe’s greatest sculptors
Institut Giacometti is devoted to researching, archiving and displaying the work of the prominent 20th-century Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti. (Supplied)
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Updated 02 July 2021

How ancient Egyptian art influenced one of Europe’s greatest sculptors

How ancient Egyptian art influenced one of Europe’s greatest sculptors
  • A new exhibition reveals how the renowned Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti drew inspiration from pharaonic times

DUBAI: Paris is famed for its fabulous big-name museums, which attract crowds from across the world. But the city is also home to smaller, understated cultural gems that deserve attention too. Among them is Institut Giacometti, devoted to researching, archiving and displaying the work of the prominent 20th-century Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti.

For 40 years, Giacometti lived and worked in the heritage building that currently houses the museum, in the Montparnasse neighborhood. Although he died in 1966, Giacometti lives on through the museum’s unique showcase of his cluttered atelier, personal pieces of furniture, and rarely seen artworks.

The institute’s new summer exhibition, running until October 10, examines how ancient Egyptian art profoundly informed the sculptor’s artistic practice. “Giacometti and Ancient Egypt” is a marriage of antiquity and modernity, where East meets West. Giacometti’s distinctive thin elongated figurative statues confront or stand side-by-side with objects from the Old, Middle, and New Kingdoms of ancient Egypt. The Louvre has exceptionally loaned 16 artifacts to this exhibition.




For 40 years, Giacometti lived and worked in the heritage building that currently houses the museum, in the Montparnasse neighborhood. (Supplied)

Giacometti never set foot on Egyptian soil, but that did not prevent him from admiring its artistic heritage from afar. “Giacometti was a very cultivated man,” the exhibition’s co-curator Romain Perrin told Arab News. “I think the passion he had for Egypt began in the library of his father. When Giacometti was a young boy at the College of Schiers in Switzerland, he did a conference on the question, ‘What was the most important art of humankind?’ His answer was Egypt.”

Aside from devouring European-published books on Egyptian art, museum visits in Italy and France from the 1920s onwards led Giacometti to draw insightful sketches of representations of formidable Egyptian pharaohs, including Rahotep and Amenophis, which dated back thousands of years. Giacometti was struck by how they still exuded life through their quiet, confident presence.

“The Egyptian sculptures are tremendous, their lines and forms are so well-proportioned, their technique is perfect, no one has ever equalled them,” he once wrote in a letter to his parents.




WALKING WOMAN - Alberto Giacometti Femme qui marche I 1932, Succession Alberto Giacometti (Fondation Giacometti + ADAGP 2021). (Supplied)

Giacometti’s passion for Egyptian art may have been further fuelled by the tail end of Europe’s ‘Egyptomania,’ which had been sparked by Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign at the end of the 18th century. Its influence meant Paris staged operas that were set in ancient Egypt, some local venues took on Egyptian-related names such as Le Louxor Cinema, Passage du Caire, and a famed brothel called Le Sphinx. Obelisks and pyramids were also installed — and still stand — on the streets of the French capital.

As the exhibition shows, Giacometti was particularly influenced by the Egyptian figurines’ still and straight forms, upright postures, and hieratic poses (arms alongside the body and joined feet). Whether depicting a seated scribe or a standing cat, they embodied balance and character. Through expressive plaster figures including “Walking Woman I” (1932-3) and “Bust of a Seated Man” (1965), Giacometti applied these aesthetic principles of ancient Egyptian art to his own work.




Alberto Giacometti, copies of a Fayum mummy portrait, a New Guinea mask and a Malekoula mannequin circa 1950, Ink on paper, 29.5x21cm, Fondation Giacometti. (Supplied)

“What we are trying to show in this exhibition is that Giacometti didn’t copy from a book — he had another perception and selected some specific images,” explained Perrin. One of the most compelling works on display is a funerary Fayum portrait from the Roman epoch of a woman with a direct-yet-gentle gaze. Giacometti made a sketch of such portraits, praising and adopting the manner in which Egyptian artists effectively depicted the fixated gaze, bringing the sitter to life. The piercing gaze became an iconic aspect of Giacometti’s sculptural portraits, reflecting emotional fragility and complexity.

“There is an aspect of life in the portrait,” remarked Perrin. “This is paradoxical because ancient Egyptian art was considered by western theoreticians at that time as something archaic. But Giacometti used this archaism to say that it was more realistic than any other art.” According to Perrin, Giacometti might have seen himself in this art form as an alter ego of the intellectual scribe. He also revealed that a rediscovered private photograph from the archive shows Giacometti playfully posing in a way that is reminiscent of the ancient Egyptians’ stature.

The exhibition has come as a surprise to many visitors, who were unaware of the undeniable link between Giacometti and the world of ancient Egypt.

“The most beautiful comments I heard in the first two days of the exhibition,” recalled Perrin, “were from a couple who saw ‘Walking Woman’ and thought it was Egyptian. But it’s Giacometti.”


Vatican Museums, Uffizi team up to confirm a Raphael is real

Vatican Museums, Uffizi team up to confirm a Raphael is real
Updated 57 min 49 sec ago

Vatican Museums, Uffizi team up to confirm a Raphael is real

Vatican Museums, Uffizi team up to confirm a Raphael is real
  • “Saints Peter and Paul by Raphael and Fra Bartlomeo. An homage to the Patrons of Rome,” marks the first exhibit for the Vatican Museums in over a year
  • The nearly life-sized paintings of Saints Peter and Paul are normally kept outside public view in the Papal Audience Apartment of the Apostolic Palace

VATICAN CITY: Two of the world’s most important art museums, the Vatican Museums and the Uffizi Galleries, joined forces for the first time on Friday.
The museums inaugurated a small exhibit of rarely seen works by two Renaissance masters that confirmed a painting long suspected of being by Raphael was indeed his work.
“Saints Peter and Paul by Raphael and Fra Bartlomeo. An homage to the Patrons of Rome,” marks the first exhibit for the Vatican Museums in over a year thanks to COVID-19 lockdowns that shuttered galleries precisely at the time that Italy was commemorating the 500th anniversary of Raphael’s death with a series of shows.
The nearly life-sized paintings of Saints Peter and Paul are normally kept outside public view in the Papal Audience Apartment of the Apostolic Palace. But they have been restored and are being displayed for the first time alongside their preparatory sketches, usually held in Florence by the Uffizi Galleries, that the Florentine master Fra Bartolemeo made around 1513 after he was commissioned to paint the saints for a Rome church.
Fra Bartolomeo finished the painting of St. Paul, but because of an artistic crisis, never finished St. Peter. The restoration and research done in preparation for the exhibit confirmed that Raphael — long believed to have finished his friend’s commission — indeed completed the work, the Vatican Museums’ director, Barbara Jatta, told a press conference Friday alongside her Uffizi counterpart, Eike Schmidt.
“It’s not the moment for big shows ... but a small show allows us to enter more into the works themselves,” Jatta said.
While the Uffizi and Vatican Museums often exchange pieces for special exhibits, Schmidt and Jatta said this was the first time the two institutions had joined up to mount a show and catalogue together, with each museum restoring and offering new research into the pieces being exhibited and drawing on their respective patron groups to fund it.
“This is in a certain sense a novelty and its really beautiful to get out of the pandemic with this,” Schmidt said. Jatta added she foresaw future collaborative projects as well.
The exhibit, in a small gallery of the Vatican Museums’ picture gallery, is included in regular museum tickets, which because of COVID regulations must be reserved online in advance, while visitors to the museum must show a health pass to get in the door.


Model Gigi Hadid walks Tod’s runway in Milan

Model Gigi Hadid walks Tod’s runway in Milan
Updated 24 September 2021

Model Gigi Hadid walks Tod’s runway in Milan

Model Gigi Hadid walks Tod’s runway in Milan

DUBAI: US-Palestinian-Dutch model Gigi Hadid on Friday walked the runway for Italian luxury label Tod’s show at Milan Fashion Week.

For the opening of the fashion show, the catwalk star wore an off-white zip-up coat dress with camel pocket-detailing, pairing her outfit with a matching bag and bulky sandals.

The catwalk star wore an off-white zip-up coat dress with camel pocket-detailing, pairing her outfit with a matching bag and bulky sandals. (Getty)

Her closing look was a vibrant see-through orange raincoat that she wore over a plain white dress.

The brand presented its spring/summer 2022 women’s collection at the event that was attended by some of the Arab world’s leading celebrities including Tunisian model Rym Saidi Breidy, and TV presenter Diala Makki.

Mom-of-one Hadid, who recently made headlines for her 2021 Met Gala look, opted for a monochrome look by Italian label Prada.

look was a vibrant see-through orange raincoat that she wore over a plain white dress. (Getty)

The off-the-shoulder design was sleek and form-fitting, and Hadid rounded it off with a pair of black tights. In true vampy style, she relaced her usually blonde locks with flowing auburn hair, which was secured with a dazzling black brooch atop her head. Over-the-elbow black leather gloves completed the glamorous look.

The supermodel and her singer partner, Zayn Malik, also celebrated the first birthday of their daughter Khai.


Beyonce poses in heels by Arab designer Andrea Wazen

Beyonce poses in heels by Arab designer Andrea Wazen
Updated 24 September 2021

Beyonce poses in heels by Arab designer Andrea Wazen

Beyonce poses in heels by Arab designer Andrea Wazen

DUBAI: US superstar Beyonce is the latest A-list celebrity to step out wearing Lebanese footwear designer Andrea Wazen’s creations. 

The singer, songwriter and actress, who celebrated her 40th birthday earlier this month, shared a series of images on Instagram on Thursday championing Wazen’s Dassy PVC pumps, transparent pointy-toed heels with white detailing.

In the pictures, the “Crazy in Love” singer modeled a glittering green cocktail dress with floral appliqués by renowned Italian luxury label Dolce & Gabbana. 

She had her hair in a slicked-back ponytail.

The “Crazy in Love” singer modeled a glittering green cocktail dress with floral appliqués by renowned Italian luxury label Dolce & Gabbana. (Supplied)

The pictures showed Beyonce vacationing with her husband, US rapper Jay Z.

It’s no secret that Wazen is one of the most in-demand footwear designers today. The Lebanese designer launched her namesake label in Beirut in 2013 and has since gone on to grab the attention of world-famous superstars. 

Her strappy sandals, leather boots and tulle-ruffled slingbacks have been spotted on a broad spectrum of stars that include Hailey Bieber, Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Alba, Addison Rae, Khloe Kardashian, Kylie Jenner and more.


Princess Reema hopes global walkathon will raise awareness of plight of big cats

Princess Reema hopes global walkathon will raise awareness of plight of big cats
Updated 24 September 2021

Princess Reema hopes global walkathon will raise awareness of plight of big cats

Princess Reema hopes global walkathon will raise awareness of plight of big cats
  • Global ‘Catwalk’ scheduled for November will ‘form a bridge between cat conservation, the environment, and active lifestyles’

DUBAI: In an effort to raise awareness of endangered big cats and their ecosystems, the US-based independent non-profit foundation Catmosphere is hosting a worldwide ‘Catwalk’ on November 6 in a bid to get people moving and simultaneously benefit the world’s big cats.

Catmosphere was launched in July by Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US, who is on a mission to safeguard the lives and wellbeing of big cats. Catmosphere aims to magnify the efforts of Panthera, the only organization in the world devoted to the conservation of 40 species of wild cats.

“Catmosphere is a catalyst for change. Its campaigns and activations are (intended) to build momentum globally around big cat conservation,” Princess Reema told Arab News. “I first understood the threat to the future of big cats when I learned about Panthera’s work in Saudi Arabia with the Royal Commission of AlUla, where they are researching the status of the Arabian leopard in the Kingdom with a view to forging a path for its recovery in the region.”

Catmosphere aims to magnify the efforts of Panthera, the only organization in the world devoted to the conservation of 40 species of wild cats. (Shutterstock)

Many species of big cats are now facing extinction. Catmosphere focuses on Panthera’s conservation efforts covering seven big cat species: Tigers, lions, cheetahs, jaguars, pumas, leopards, and snow leopards.

“The future of big cats is under threat, primarily due to diminishing habitats,” Princess Reema said. “Accordingly, Catwalk is striving for a healthy habitat for big cats, and healthy habitats start at home. A healthy and active lifestyle helps us respect our own bodies, and engaging with our environment gives us an appreciation for the fundamental role it plays in all of life. Catwalk invites us all to ignite physical movement locally, and in doing so trigger the big cat conservation movement globally.”

Princess Reema, who sits on the boards of both the Catmosphere foundation and Panthera’s Conservation Council, is actively involved in Catwalk as part of the leadership team.

Many species of big cats are now facing extinction. (Shutterstock)

It hopes to rally supporters around the world to take part in the global, mass-participation seven-kilometer walk on Nov. 6.

The event is open to everyone and can be completed in whatever way works best for the participant, wherever they are in the world. What is unique about the event is its link between building awareness about big cats, the environment and the importance of one’s own health, wellbeing and physical fitness.

“The global mass-participation activity aims to form a bridge between cat conservation, the environment, and active lifestyles, and brings together my own past experiences in campaign curation,” Princess Reema said. “I’m excited to work with different stakeholders all around the globe to map a path for scalable, inclusive campaign delivery that demonstrates how igniting a movement locally can result in meaningful change, ensuring the wellbeing and continuation of big cat populations globally.”

Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud is on a mission to safeguard the lives and wellbeing of big cats. (AFP)

Princess Reema stressed that the pandemic has impacted the world’s experience of both wildlife and community.

According to the World Health Organization, 24 percent of all human deaths are attributable to environmental factors. A quarter of the world’s population is at risk due to insufficient exercise in increasingly sedentary societies. Big cats are even more dependent on their environments than humans.

Panthera has warned that important species are threatened by habitat loss, and that the tiger, lion, leopard and cheetah have lost between 65 percent and 96 percent of their historical numbers.

The seven-kilometer walk will take place on Nov. 6. (Supplied)

“The reality of the pandemic and the experience that the whole world has just had of separation and isolation from human communities due to COVID-19 is very much what was done to the big cats when we cut off their territorial corridors and isolated them from their natural habitats in nature,” Princess Reema said.

“Just as we have seen that impact on us, imagine what that impact has been on them. Catwalk is hoping to highlight a very simple fact: That our collective wellbeing is interconnected, and so it is incumbent on all of us to operate through empathy and provide spaces that we as humans would want to live and thrive in, and ensure the same for big cats,” she added.

As Princess Reema underlines, given the challenges presented by the pandemic over the past 18 months, now is the time to reassess our relationship with nature and as well as that “between a healthy person and a healthy environment, to showcase the potential that each of us has to ensure a healthy future for big cats, too.”


Co-founder of the Independent Iraqi Film Festival discusses second edition 

 Co-founder of the Independent Iraqi Film Festival discusses second edition 
Updated 24 September 2021

Co-founder of the Independent Iraqi Film Festival discusses second edition 

 Co-founder of the Independent Iraqi Film Festival discusses second edition 
  • ‘We have other stories to tell besides chaos,’ says Shahnaz Dulaimy

DUBAI: When Iraqi film editor Shahnaz Dulaimy was a university student, an academic counsellor advised her to pursue heavyweight majors such as economics and business management — the kind of thing a typical family would approve of — and not her desired option, film. 

Instead, Dulaimy, who was raised in Jordan, did the complete opposite. She moved to Rome, where classic movies including “La Dolce Vita” and “Roman Holiday” were shot, and studied film history and production. 

“There’s such a stigma around (working in creative sectors),” she tells Arab News. “When you hear people talking about actors and actresses, for example, they make it sound like such a demeaning job. But, at the same time, everyone sits in front of the TV, watching the latest TV series or films. There’s still this (disparaging attitude) towards the film industry. Luckily, there are more people pushing it, but I don’t think it’s 100 percent where it needs to be.”

Dulaimy was raised in Jordan. (Supplied)

In London, where she now lives, she co-founded the Independent Iraqi Film Festival along with like-minded cinema-loving Iraqis. The volunteer-run, online event launched last year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and notched up around 5,000 views. Dulaimy calls it a “passion project,” highlighting talent from emerging and established Iraqi filmmakers. 

“We wanted to see films that reflect us and our identity. Iraqi cinema is generally underrepresented on the international circuit,” she says. “What we had aimed to do is to provide a platform dedicated to showcasing Iraqi films.” 

The organizers of the IIFF were so overwhelmed by support from both viewers and filmmakers that they decided to go for a second run. Between October 1 and 7, the IIFF will present a curated program of 15 feature films and a series of talks featuring three well-known industry figures: American-Iraqi visual artist Michael Rakowitz, Iraqi actress and director Zahraa Ghandour, and Iraqi set designer Mohammed Khalid. 

Among the featured films this year is “Iraqi Women: Voices from Exile,” made in the 1990s by London-based director Maysoon Pachachi. (Supplied)

This time around, more than 90 film submissions were received, which made Dulaimy and her colleagues realize more than ever the responsibility they bear. “I think it shifted from being just a passion project to more of a duty towards the Iraqi community in Iraq and the diaspora,” she says. 

To make the festival as accessible as possible, all its offerings will be freely available for streaming worldwide and subtitled in English. The filmmakers did not have to pay any submission fee either. 

“The moment you ask people to pay, there’s a wall. You’re kind of blocking people, you’re blocking talent,” she says. The selected independent films, created by both men and women who live inside and outside of the country, reflect the diversity of Iraqi society, as well as the struggles people encounter and their hopes and dreams. There is a particular focus on telling the stories of the marginalized — specifically women and minorities. 

“Iraq is not a one-layered country,” notes Dulaimy. “It’s a multi-dimensional, multi-textured culture. You’ve got everyone from the Kurds in northern Iraq to the Assyrians and Yazidis. It’s so important that everyone gets an equal voice. Iraqis are not just Arabic-speaking, Baghdad-born-and-raised Arabs.” Among the featured films this year is “Iraqi Women: Voices from Exile,” made in the 1990s by London-based director Maysoon Pachachi, and Ali Raheem’s 2015 documentary “Balanja,” about four Kurdish people overcoming the pains of the past. 

Over the past couple of decades, the image the outside world has of Iraq has been one of warfare, terror, and destruction. But, Dulaimy points out, Iraq has much more to offer to the world. 

“Iraq is not just a war-torn zone, where people are struggling on a daily basis. We have other stories to tell besides the political disarray and chaos. I think we’re ready to move on from that, we don’t want to keep playing the victims. I feel the time for us to move on is now,” she says. “I hope audiences also take into consideration how difficult it is to shoot a film. You’re not going to see a polished, dazzling film. What you’re going to see is raw, social, realist films. I just want people to go into the festival with open eyes and ears.”