Alberto Giacometti, born just before WW1, grew up in Switzerland and was from a family where both his
father and brother were artists. His contemporaries’ were the likes of Rodin,
Duchamp, and Picasso. He was associated
with both Cubists
and surrealist movements, within Modernism
working with philosophical ideas of phenomenology and existentialism.

Giacometti captured my
interest with his figurative work and his paintings. His sculptures are sombre,
almost fragile and yet have solidity about them. Although in motion they seem
very still and quiet (See figure 2), where
as his other work ‘Seated Man’ one feels he became the space, a part of his
surroundings. You can see the energy in this piece the brush stokes and speed
of line, sketching the sitter and background together; the sitter himself is
almost translucent, being able to see the room through him. (See figure 1)

He wanted to show us the truth within the
figure, the space, which is hollowed out from the object. Then that object in
turn creates the space. His
sculptural work is rough, eroded, and
a heavily worked surface. The pieces are reduced, to their very thin and
slender core. (See figure 2)

style would rarely shift from the figurative form, he
attempted to create renditions of his models the way he saw them, and the way
he thought they ought to be seen. He once said that he was sculpting not the
human figure but “the shadow that is cast.”

Finding out more about how
Giacometti sculpts his pieces reworking them several times until he gets what
he’s after, shows us the intensity involved as he was producing these pieces. He
had first hand experience of mans fragility and fleeting moments of life within
this world, yet his figures also seem to portray his own personal angst.

Alberto Giacometti’s work is
extremely relevant in today’s society showing us how we are all loosing our
individuality just to fit into a space and style that is irrelevant and
fleeting. His work has influenced many postmodern artists, and other movements
like Superstroke and South African art.

Seeing this work first hand at
the Tate exhibition, Transformed visions; ‘New Images of Man’ confirms the idea
that Giacometti wanted to show us the fragility of the human figure, he really
does capture the essence of being; he creates a shadow like impression of a

The piece itself ‘Pointing Man’ cast in bonze, from a reworked
clay sculpture, was larger than expected, and with more detail. This slender
figure was also positioned on a solid bronze base giving weight and depth. Seeing
it like this first hand really gives you the right perspective and shows you the
work and emotion involved. The way it was displayed against a plain cream background
with the light casting the shadow of the piece onto the wall, gave the piece an
ethereal feel.


Fig 1


Man 1949 -Tate Modern -Transformed visions; ‘New images of Man’)




Man 1947 – Tate Modern -Transformed visions; ‘New images of Man’)


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