New pictorial books shed light on Brancusi and Giacometti

Two very special art books are just out: ``Brancusi,'' a profusely illustrated study of that sculptor's life and work, with an illuminating text by Pontus Hulton, former director of the Pompidou Centre in Paris, and ``Alberto Giacometti,'' a more personal but no less incisive volume on that artist's work by the late photographer and designer Herbert Matter and his wife, Mercedes. ``Brancusi'' is a must for every art library. Its 602 illustrations, including 64 color plates and a large number of Brancusi's own photographs, present as strong a pictorial argument for this artist's genius and historical importance as any that exists. In addition, its documentations are thorough and interesting.

``Alberto Giacometti'' is an extended photo essay of the artist's work by someone who knew it well and respected it highly. That Giacometti, in turn, liked Matter's photographs is proved by his words to the photographer: ``They are by far the most beautiful photographs that have been made of my things, and, most important, at the same time they have a reality in themselves.''

Both books are from Harry N. Abrams Inc., ``Brancusi'' at $75, ``Alberto Giacometti'' at $60.

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