Giacometti Figure Sculptures


Lesson Title: Giacometti Figure Sculptures

Concepts: Figure Sculpting, Working in Wire, Capturing Movement & Gesture, Creating 3D Forms

Appropriate Grade Levels: 3rd - High School

Lesson Rationale/Overview: After an intensive figure drawing unit, students will choose a dynamic pose to render in wire using a basic human form. See the steps below: 

wire figure building steps

Goals and Standards: 
Grade K-4 Visual Arts Standard 1: Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes

Grade K-4 Visual Arts Standard 5: Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others

Learner Outcomes: Students will practice working in multiple sculptural media while building upon their knowledge of the human form. Students will confidently speak about the exaggeration of poses, as seen in the work of Alberto Giacometti, for emotive effect and the expression of movement. 

Materials Needed for Lesson:

  • 18 gauge copper wire
  • Wire cutters (teacher use)
  • Hot glue gun (teacher use)
  • Wooden blocks
  • Plaster gauze strips
  • Water bins
  • Acrylic paint (preferably in a variety of metallic tones)

Materials for Students with Special Needs:

  • softer or thinner wire for easier bending- pipe cleaners work well
  • personal visual organizer of steps 
  • gloves if tactile defensive of plaster textures

Lesson Procedures:

1. Starting the Lesson: Introduce Alberto Giacometti and discuss his unique style of figurative sculpture. Critique a timeline of his work, as well as his paintings- compare and contrast his painting style to his sculptural style. Review basic figure proportions before creating wire armature figures together. 

2. Behavioral Expectations: Students will be responsible for keeping their workspace neat and treating the materials with respect (especially using calm bodies while working with wire, giving each other more space to avoid poking). Students are expected to give informal constructive peer critique through the studio process to guide each other. They may work in pairs if this process proves difficult for some students. 

3. Organizer: Break each studio session down into three or four steps and write it on the board, or project it on a screen, so students know the next step in the figure forming process.

4. Lesson Sequence:

  • Once figures are complete, ask each student to choose a pose. Each pose must have at least one hand or foot on the base. 
  • Assist students by gluing their chosen pose to wooden blocks (I like to write student names on the underside of these blocks, as they all look similar for a while)
  • When wire figures are attached to bases, students may begin carefully wrapping the wire with plaster gauze pieces dipped in water. (I cut my strips to be approximately 1"x3")
  • The plaster stage may take multiple class periods, especially if students are working carefully to create smooth, tightly wrapped pieces.
  • As students finish wrapping their sculptures, they may mix a custom color of acrylic paint to seal the plaster. Advise students to cover all the tiny crevices and turn the sculpture often to check for missed spots.
  • After cleanup, have students write a short poem or essay inspired by the pose they have created.
  • Group critique using this method.