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New York, NY—Nahmad Contemporary is pleased to present Dubuffet x Giacometti, a long overdue tête-à-tête between two of the most significant artists of the 20th century, on view from May 1 through June 8, 2024. Despite moving in the same Parisian circles, sharing a gallerist and concurrently introducing their unique postwar European sensibilities to New York, Jean Dubuffet (1901–85) and Alberto Giacometti (1901–66) have only once been presented together in a dedicated pairing: at Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, in 1968. After more than half a century and countless solo and group exhibitions across the globe, Dubuffet x Giacometti juxtaposes a careful selection of more than 20 works by these iconic artists, including paintings and sculptures. With special consideration given to the reception of the artists’ work in New York between 1947 and 1968, the exhibition offers a philosophical interrogation of their parallel art practices in the wake of the Second World War, considering the connections but also the discrepancies between their respective positions. Dubuffet x Giacometti is curated in collaboration with renowned art historian Eleanor Nairne. 

Dubuffet and Giacometti, both born in 1901 in France and Switzerland, respectively, forged deeply existential artistic outlooks inspired by the devastation and disorientation of the two world wars. While there is no record of direct correspondence between them, the Paris-based artists rubbed shoulders often enough to interpret reciprocity in their practices. They exhibited regularly with Pierre Matisse Gallery, where Dubuffet’s first solo exhibition occurred in 1947 and Giacometti’s in 1948. With singular bodies of work articulating the alienation and estrangement of a generation, the artists became icons of a postwar European vision at home and abroad. 

In New York, they both found acclaim and were among the roster of artists in the Museum of Modern Art’s New Images of Man(1959) curated by Peter Selz, who also organized solo exhibitions for each of them (Dubuffet in February 1962 and Giacometti in June 1965) at the museum. In the late 1950s, prior to Dubuffet’s commission to create his landmark Group of Four Trees(1969–72) for Chase Manhattan Plaza, Giacometti was initially chosen for the space. Unfamiliar with the city and unconvinced about how his figures would compete with the surrounding skyscrapers, he withdrew from the project. However, when he traveled to New York for his MoMA retrospective, shortly before his untimely death at the beginning of the following year, Giacometti made a special visit to the plaza and asked his wife Annette to stand where his sculptures would have been. 

Dubuffet x Giacometti is made possible by generous loans from European and American institutions, including Fondation Beyeler, Riehen and Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation, New York, as well as from international private collections. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue featuring new research by Nairne, as well as essays by Giacometti expert Casimiro Di Crescenzo and Dubuffet scholar Camille Houzé.