The museum, an imposing structure dating from the 16th century, houses apart from many items relating the people and nature in the valley, a fine collection of works by the various local artists.

The village of Stampa, small and even without a church, nevertheless was put on the map of modern art, through the artistry by Giovanni, Alberto, Diego and Augusto Giacometti, all born in this village and buried in the neighbouring cemetery of Borgonovo.

In addition to works by these artists, Willy Guggenheim (Varlin) is represented by a very large painting portraying the people of his village Bondo.

[sta_anchor id=”giovanni-giacometti”]giovanni giacometti

Giovanni Ulrico was born to Caterina Ottilia Santi and Alberto Giacometti on 7 March 1868 in Stampa, After schooling in Chur he left in 1886 for Munich, where he attended the school for arts and crafts (Kunstgewerbeschule) and two different painter’s schools. During the first year he met Cuno Amiet, another Swiss aspiring artist. Their close friendship was to last for the entire life.

After visiting the international art exhibition in May 1888, particularly impressed by the paintings by James Whistler, the two young artists decided that Paris must be the place to learn. From autumn 1888 until 1991 they attended the Academie Julian, Tony Robert- Fleury and the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts.

Feeling Isolated in the valley back home, Giovanni undertook a trip to Rome and Torre del Greco, from where he returned penniless and depressed. And then, in 1894 he met and became a close friend of Giovanni Segantini, who proved to be a kind mentor and encouraged Giovanni to follow his calling – a crucial turning point. 1897 brought the first commercial success, the following year the first exhibition, together with Cuno Amiet and Ferdinand Hodler, and in 1900 his marriage to Annetta Stampa. Four children were born to this strong marriage, Alberto, Diego, Ottilia and Bruno.

First they lived together in Borgonovo and then, in 1904 the family moved to Stampa where they settled for good, having found an apartment and the adjoining barn, which Giovanni had refurbished as an atelier.

In 1909 they received another house in Capolago (Maloja), where another atelier was installed, thus during the summer months the family would move up there by the estuary of Lake Sils. Participating in an exhibition of the “Bruecke” group of painters in 1908 was followed by a large exhibition including 50 paintings, shown at the Kunsthaus in Zurich. A first retrospective exhibition was shown in 1920 in the Kunsthalle Basel. Giovanni served as member of the Federal Art Commission and the Gottfried Keller Foundation. Having lived in Paris of the impressionist painters, with particular admiration for Edouard Manet, he was after that deeply influenced by the divisionist style of painting as practised by Giovanni Segantini. Careful study of Vincent van Gogh’s work, as well as that by Paul Cezanne left clear traces in his work. Together with Cuno Amiet, he figures among the first Swiss artists, who embraced and developed further contemporary art, issuing from Impressionism, Post-Impressionism and the art of the Fauves. His palette is luminous reflecting the very particular light that illuminates the valley Bregaglia and the Upper Engadine.

Veglia, 1901
Oil on canvas,
Museo Ciäsa Granda

[sta_anchor id=”augusto-giacometti”]augusto giacometti

Antonio Augusto was born to Marta Stampa and Giacomo Giacometti on 16 August in Stampa. Attending the school for arts and crafts in Zurich (Kunstgewerbeschule) in order to become an art teacher, he came across a new publication by Eugene Grasset La plante et ses applications of 1896. This gave him the impulse to move to Paris where he attended the Ecole Nationale des Art Decoratifs, the Academie Colarossi and Eugene Grasset’s school for drawing.

While working in ornamental Art Nouveau style, it is during these years in Paris, that Augusto drew his first abstract compositions. These reflect his ardent passion for colour and issue from the study of butterfly’s wings that he observed in the botanical garden. From 1902 to 1915 Augusto lived in Florence, where he studied art of the early Renaissance, and where he taught academic drawing.

Revoking the Triple Alliance, Italy entered the war in May 1915. This caused Augusto to leave for Switzerland and he rented an atelier in Zurich on the Raemistrasse. He made the acquaintance of important collectors, such as Richard Kisling and Alfred Ruetschi. Many
public commissions followed for wall paintings, as well as stained glass windows. Here too he met with members of the Dada group and took part in the 8th Dada-Soiree with Alice Bailly. From 1918-1920 Augusto was a member of the artists group Das Neue Leben.

International acclaim ensued and he took part in exhibitions in Berlin (Kunsthandlung Victor Hartberg, 1928), Paris (Galerie Bernheim Jeune, 1930 and 1933), and in Milano (Castello Sforzesco, 1935), finally in 1932 at the Biennale in Venice. Augusto served as member of the Federal Art Commission and presided over the same from 1939 until his demise. The aspiring artist found himself at the beginning under the influence of Art Nouveau, Japonism, Symbolism and the rather dominant Ferdinand Hodler. With his abstract compositions from the very end of the 19th century and later, he is counted among the pioneers of that art form. His profound love for colours and the study of their theory found wide dissemination in a radiophonic transmission in 1933 entitled Die Farbe und ich (The Colour and I)..


Il paradiso, 1930
Pastell on card
Museo Ciäsa Granda

[sta_anchor id=”alberto-giacometti”]alberto giacometti

Giovanni Alberto was born to Annetta Stampa and Giovanni Giacometti on 10 October in Borgonovo. His talent for drawing was recognized early on and, while at the Gymnasium in Schiers, Alberto was offered a small atelier. In the autumn of 1919 he attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Ecole Arts Industriels in Geneva. 1920 he accompanied his father Giovanni to the Biennale in Venice, was awed by Tintoretto and in Padua by Giotto. In the autumn he traveled to Florence, where an ancient Egyptian head impressed him greatly – the first truly life-like sculpture he had encountered. Rome was the next station, where he lived with relatives, his efforts to model a portrait of his cousin Bianca greatly disappointed him. Naples, Paestum and Pompeii left lasting impressions, but most affected he was by the sudden death of an elderly travelling companion by the name of Pieter van Meurs (an archivist who died 4 September 1921), the effects of which Alberto recorded in his text of 1946, Le Reve, le Sphynx et la mort de T.

January 9th Alberto arrived in Paris, enrolled in a life drawing class at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere and a sculpture class at the same given by Emile-Antoine Bourdelle. Alberto remained enrolled until 1927. His brother Diego having joined him in 1925, his circle of friends widened beyond the academy, and now included Pierre Matisse. He entered into a relationship with Flora Mayo, which lasted until 1929. After brief stays in two different ateliers, he moved in 1927 together with Diego into the studio at 46, rue Hippolyte-Maindron, which was to serve as his home until his demise. Not satisfied with the form of his sculptures, Alberto experimented with Cubism and studies African art. Influential were the works by Alexander Archipenko, Jacques Lipchitz and Henri Laurens, the latter became a friend. Portraits of his mother and his father developed into the greatly abstracted reliefs, which found admiration among avant-garde artists. He got to meet Andre Masson, Hans Arp, Joan Miro, Max Ernst, Alexander Calder and Pablo Picasso. Also the surrealist writers, such as Louis Aragon and Georges Bataille sought to meet the artist. Michel Leiris wrote an important essay about Giacometti in Documents.

1930 Alberto joined the Surrealists, and having been introduced by Man Ray to Jean-Michel Frank, he and his brother began designing vases, lamps and appliques, thus securing badly needed income. Commissions for jewellery were placed by Elsa Schiaparelli.

After the death of his father in 1933, he designed a stele for Giovanni’s tomb. Alberto returned to figurative sculpting, and thus was expelled by the Surrealists. In 1936 he met Isabel Nicholas – who at this point was married to Sefton Delmer. This relationship exerted considerable influence on Alberto’s work, the two shared intellectual enthusiasm and the admiration for ancient Egyptian art. The following year his beloved sister Ottilia died after giving birth to a son called Silvio Berthoud. A year before the second World War started, the artist met Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre. 1942 – 1945 Alberto lived in Geneva, met Annette Arm, – the human figures he modelled were on a minute scale. Diego remained in Paris and looked after the atelier until September 1945, when Alberto returned. His drawings of people passing by in the street show the spindly figures, that we are now so familiar with. 1948 saw an important exhibition in New York hosted at the gallery of Pierre Matisse, which established Giacometti’s international recognition. The following year Alberto married Annette Arm, who had joined him two years earlier.

With his reputation established, many exhibitions, commissions and honours followed. Ernst Scheidegger and Peter Muenger produced a film about the artist, the French nation bestowed the Grand Prix de Sculpture Nazionale and the university of Berne the Doctor honoris causa. Apart from Annette and Diego, he portrayed the Japanese professor Isaku Yanaihara and commencing in 1961, his companion Caroline. Jean Genet published in 1954 L’atelier d’alberto giacometti, which offers a remarkable insight. The last intense study was of Eli Lotar, of whom he modelled three different versions, the last of which Diego cast in bronze after Alberto’s demise on 11 January 1966 and placed on the tomb in Borgonovo.


eli lotar III, 1965 © succession alberto giacometti / 2011, prolitteris, zurich

Eli Lotar III, 1965
Bronze, cast in 1968
Museo Ciäsa Granda, prestito illimitato


[sta_anchor id=”diego-giacometti”]diego giacometti

Born on 15 November to Annetta Stampa and Giovanni Giacometti on 15 Novembre in Borgonovo. At the age of twelve he sat for the first time as a model for Alberto – countless such sittings were to follow during Alberto’s life. After a voyage to Egypt, where he marvelled at the Great Sphinx and the works of art in the museum in Cairo, he moved in with Alberto in Paris in 1925. Like his brother, he enrolled in classes offered by Emile-Antoine Bourdelle.

He collaborated with his brother to create decorative objects for Jean-Michel Franck until the outbreak of WW II.

From 1941 – 1945 Diego lived and worked alone in the atelier and suffered considerably through lack of income. During this time he took courses at the Academie scandinave and modelled the first figures.

Upon the return of Alberto, Diego prinicpally served as assistant to his brother by working the stone, preparing the armatures for the plaster models, taking cast of the sculptures, and taking care of the casting in bronze and the varnish, in which he excelled. At the same time though, he continued creating decorative objects, often enlivened by figures of animals. After Alberto’s demise, he greatly increased his creative output by modelling furniture, chandeliers and appliques, mostly cast in bronze.

For the Fondation Maeght in Saint-Paulde- Vence, he supplied the furnishings in the Cafe Diego, the same for the bar in the Restaurant Kronenhalle in Zurich and many collectors, such as Hubert de Givenchy. The largest commission was the furnishing of the Musee Picasso, which opened in 1985, the same year when Diego died. In all his works a tender love for animals clearly is evidenced.


The Cat “maitre d’hôtel” © succession diego giacometti / 2011, prolitteris, zurich

The Cat “maitre d’hotel”
Bronze, conceived in 1961, second version of 1964
Museo Ciäsa Granda

[sta_anchor id=”varlin”]varlin

Born to Therese Wyler and Hermann Guggenheim on 16 March in Zurich. An apprenticeship at the atelier Seitz and the enrollement in the school for arts and crafts in St. Gallen were followed by his move in 1921 to Berlin, where he became a pupil of Emil Orlik.
From 1923 – 1932 he lived in Paris, first enrolled at the Academie Julian and then at the Academie Andre Lhote, where he met the art dealer Leopold Zborowski. The latter offered him a contract, an atelier space and suggested he adopt the name Varlin.

After the demise of Zborowski, Varlin returned to Switzerland, moved together with his mother and twin sister Erna to an apartment in Zurich. This town remained his place of work until the 60s. The first important exhibitions took place throughout the 1950s and in 1960 the Guggenheim price for Switzerland is bestowed on Varlin. In that same year he represented Switzerland at the Biennale in Venice, together with Otto Tschumi and Robert Mueller. Years earlier Franca Giovanoli from the Bregaglia had presented herself in his atelier as a model, the two got married in 1963 and Varlin increasingly staid and worked in Bondo – by 1971 he gave up his Zurich atelier altogether and lived in Bondo until his demise.


Gente del mio paese (People of my village), 1975 – ’76
Oil and other media on tarpaulin
Museo Ciäsa Granda