Giacometti

Alberto Giacometti, The Forest, 1950

Alberto Giacometti, Sartre, 1949

FROM ‘MARA, MARIETTA’
Part Three Chapter 2

Giacometti was fond of saying, ‘There is only success to the extent that there is failure. The more it fails, the more it succeeds’.

SARTRE ON GIACOMETTI

 

Between things, between people, bridges are broken; the void slips in everywhere, each creature secretes its own void. Giacometti became a sculptor because he is obsessed with the void. He is a sculptor because he bears his void like a snail its shell, because he wants to give an account of it from all angles and in all dimensions.

Alberto Giacometti (Annette, head, bronze)
From Qu’est-ce qu’une tête? Michel Van Zele (ARTE France-Les Films d’ici, 2000) DVD

Alberto Giacometti (Annette, head, painting)
From Qu’est-ce qu’une tête? Michel Van Zele (ARTE France-Les Films d’ici, 2000) DVD

In each of his paintings and drawings, Giacometti takes us back to the moment of creation ex nihilo; each one of them revives the old metaphysical interrogation: Why is there something rather than nothing?

 

Jean-Paul Sartre, ‘Les Peintures de Giacometti’, Les Temps Modernes no 10 juin 1964. These passages translated by Richard Jonathan.

GENET ON GIACOMETTI

 

Beauty has no other origin than the singular wound, different in every case, hidden or visible, which each man bears within himself, which he preserves, and into which he withdraws when he would quit the world for a temporary but authentic solitude. Such art, then, is a far cry from what is called miserabilisme. Giacometti’s art seems to me determined to discover this secret wound in each being and even in each thing, in order for it to illuminate them.

Alberto Giacometti (Annette, head, drawing)
From Qu’est-ce qu’une tête? Michel Van Zele (ARTE France-Les Films d’ici, 2000) DVD

Alberto Giacometti (Sartre, drawing)
From Qu’est-ce qu’une tête? Michel Van Zele (ARTE France-Les Films d’ici, 2000) DVD

Giacometti’s art is not a social art that would establish a social link between objects—man and his secretions—but rather an art of superior beggars and bums, so pure that they could be united by a recognition of the solitude of every being and of every object. ‘I am alone,’ the object seems to say, ‘hence caught within a necessity against which you are powerless. If I am only what I am, I am indestructible. Being what I am, and unconditionally, my solitude knows yours!’

 

From Jean-Genet, ‘The Studio of Alberto Giacometti’, tr. Richard Howard. In The Selected Writings of Jean Genet, ed. Edmund White (New Jersey: The Ecco Press, 1993) pp. 309-329