The signature spindly sculptures of Alberto Giacometti are iconic works of art. John Baldessari is one of the most influential artists of his generation. Prada is one of the most recognizable fashion brands in existence. What happens when these three names are combined? The answer to that question is currently on show at the Prada Foundation, Milan.

Entitled “The Giacometti Variations”, this is an original project by Baldessari for the Prada Foundation, and consists of a series of elongated versions of Giacometti-inspired figures, which are clothed and accessorised with outfits designed by Baldessari. Corseted, wearing a handbag with luggage at the side, sporting a red shoe or in the middle of a hoola hoop, these are works filled with humour, imagination and respect for the Swiss sculptor. Baldessari is also making an intelligent comment on the intimate relationship between fashion and art, a key message in any project supported by the Prada Foundation. It is a catwalk show of sorts and – for art lovers or fashion fans – an unmissable one at that.

Until December 26 at Fondazione Prada

The Giacometti Variations is best explained by John Baldessari himself:

"I’ve always wanted to do tall paintings and sculptures. I suspect it’s because I am quite tall. I’ve had little opportunity since most galleries have wall heights that mirror the wall heights of collector’s homes.

A few years ago, I was invited to show in Haus Der Kunst, Munich. Since the entrance hall is extremely tall, I began thinking about tall work I could do there to capture the space. One of my ideas was the idea that I have proposed to the Prada Foundation.

My plan is to elongate standing Giacometti sculptures and clothe them with garments.

To extend an extreme existing idea to its logical conclusion has been a working method for me. Giacometti figures are the most skinny and emaciated sculpture that exist. Why not push that further? Also there currently is a blurring of art and fashion. Furthermore it is au courant, almost de rigueur that fashion models be extremely tall and thin. Why not fuse the two—art and fashion—since that idea is in our zeitgeist? I’m sure I was also inspired by the Degas Ballerina sculptures clothed with real tutus. The finished work would be the row of columns (at the foundation building) alternating with clothed attenuated pseudo Giacometti figures.

Is this parody? I’m not sure. I hate categories and definitions—I certainly am borrowing. Isn’t this what artists do? Doesn’t art arise from art? What I am doing is furthering an idea—that is the requirement of any good art.”

More info:

The Giacometti Variations runs until December 26 at Fondazione Prada, Via Fogazzaro 36, Milan.
+39 02 546 70515

See more Giacometti: The opening exhibition of Gagosian Geneva is entitled “Giacometti in Switzerland” and is dedicated to rarely seen sculptures, paintings, and works on paper produced by the artist in Stampa, a town in the Bregaglia valley near the Italian border where he was born, and in Geneva.
Until March 5
19 place de Longemalle, 1204 Geneva
+41 22 319 36 19

See more John Baldessari: Click here to read our report on John Baldessari: Pure Beauty, a major retrospective of the artist’s work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.