Both artists lived in Montparnasse, in the '50s and '60s, when Giacometti was well-established and Klein an upstart, blazing a trail for himself. There is no record of them speaking, no record, even, of them being in the same room. 'Til now, the older artist's austere iconography had nothing to do with Klein's abstract celebrations of pure, unsaturated colour.
The problem with this exhibition is that, even side by side, they still have nothing to do with one another. Despite both emerging from the rubble of post war, their work had opposite aims. Klein, who painted naked women and dragged them across the canvas, (this was the '60s, remember) dealt with momentary traces. He conceptually celebrated the human form with abandon. Giacometti negated it; reducing humanity down to 'pure presence'. Expression vs. form, vestige vs. entirety - there is no way to reconcile these differences.
Giacometti's sepulchrous work is often labelled austere, Klein's controversial. If the show is an attempt to rehabilitate both artists, it fails. This pairing is to each artist's detriment: Giacometti becomes same-y, Klein unfocussed.
These old/new exhibitions can work, very well. Just look at Frieze Masters - which is infinitely more pleasurable that Frieze Contemporary. We loved Ordovas' Rembrandt Auerbach show and Dulwich Picture Gallery's Twombly Poussin, and Egon Schiele/Jenny Saville over in Zurich was a roaring success.
It's always a pleasure to see great art. This show, though, has discord at its conception. Time for a quickie divorce.
|What||Alberto Giacometti Yves Klein: In Search of the Absolute, Gagosian|
|Where||Gagosian Grosvenor Hill, 20 Grosvenor Hill, London, W1K 3DL | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Green Park (underground)|
27 Apr 16 – 11 Jun 16, Tues-Sat, 10-6
|Website||Click here for more information|