Living Ashes, Unnamed, 1957–1960
Vivantes cendres, innommées

50 etchings created between 1957 and 1960 to accompany Michel Leirisʼs text ‘Vivantes cendres, innommées’.

The poet and explorer Michel Leiris (1901–1990) wrote the first major critique of Giacometti’s art in 1929. In 1957 he attempted suicide, and his poems entitled ‘Vivantes cendres, innommées’ as well as the etchings were created during his lengthy convalescence. Giacometti went to Leiris’s apartment with the prepared copper plates and worked on them directly in front of the model and his entourage.

In 1961 Jean Hugues published Leirisʼs text with 13 etchings by Giacometti in an edition of 100 copies, with a special edition containing further prints. Giacometti himself was fascinated by the subject and in fact made a total of 52 etchings (GS 168.01–1968.50). As the planned publication of the entire suite with a text by Leiris did not come to fruition, only six copies were printed for the artist, the author and the publisher. Leiris gave this series to Pablo Picasso on 12 October as a birthday present. Two of the prints are now missing.

50 etchings
45.0 x 31.5 cm
Kunsthaus Zürich, Alberto Giacometti-Stiftung, Donated by the City of Zurich, 1988
Object number
GS 168
inscribed bottom left (in pencil): 5/6; inscribed bottom right (in pencil): Alberto Giacometti
Further information
Ex. 5/6; 50 etchings
  • Zürcher Kunstgesellschaft | Kunsthaus Zürich (Museum), ab 1988, Leihgabe
  • Alberto Giacometti-Stiftung (Sammlung), 1988, Geschenk
  • Stadt Zürich (Sammlung), 1988
  • Verbleib unbekannt
  • 1962 von ihm Pablo Picasso zum Geburtstag geschenkt
  • Michel Leiris (*1901 Paris, +1990 Saint-Hilaire)
  • Alberto Giacometti