Augusto GIACOMETTI, “Tabernacle”, 1923


(Stampa, 1877 – 1947, Zürich)



Oil on canvas, 68 x 40 cm

Monogrammed lower right “AG” Verso on canvas signed “Augusto Giacometti”, dated “1923” and provided with Parisian customs stamp


Giacometti was one of the outstanding Swiss painters to emerge from Art Nouveau and Symbolism. He is regarded as a precursor of abstract art. His achievements in the fields of stained glass and monumental wall painting are also notable. Stylistic inconsistency, contradiction and discontinuity are terms frequently found in assessments of Giacometti’s oeuvre, and he has even been described as one of the “strangest phenomena” in Swiss art. Augusto Giacometti was highly appreciated during his lifetime; many of his works are still conserved in several spots throughout Zurich. These include the “Bluemlihalle” in the entrance hall of the Amtshaus I (which houses the police headquarters) and the windows of Zurich’s two cathedrals Grossmunster and Fraumunster (the latter also displaying windows painted by Marc Chagall). The work of Augusto Giacometti is increasingly gaining international recognition, especially his early, trend-setting color compositions.

“Tabernacle” was painted in 1923, during Giacometti’s work on the fresco on a vaulted ceiling in the hall of Amtshaus I in Zurich, which he carried out in 1923-25. As with his other works in this period, color is the main focus and the essence of his art. In the work, Giacometti strives to convey a conception of his physical presence and psychological traits. A performance of blue, crimson and yellow plays out before the viewer. What’s more, each color, like heated glass, smoothly flows into the next, sometimes mixing and transforming, creating a new synthesized explosion. In the picture we can clearly trace Giacometti’s interest in the Medieval glass arts, mysticism and modernism, which are intrinsic parts of his painting.

Condition report:

The painting is in excellent condition.


Collection of Dr.Adolf Jöhr Schulthess, Zürich;

Collection Marianne Krüger-Jöhr, Zürich;

Important private collection, Zürich, Switzerland


Exhibition catalogue Augusto Giacometti, 20 March-14 April 1933, Galerie Bernheim Jeune, Paris, pp. 22 and 29, No. 12 with ill.;

Erwin Poeschel, Augusto Giacometti, Zürich 1928, p 79, Plate VI with ill.;

Hans Hartmann, Augusto Giacometti, A Life for the color, pioneer of abstract painting, Chur, 1981, No 1


Augusto Giacometti, 20 March-14 April 1933 Galerie Bernheim Jeune, Paris

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