Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Giacometti

So to speak, the big-ticket item now in the NY museum scene is the Giacometti retrospective at the Guggenheim, where it fills the entire building. I took it in yesterday, realizing that I had never quite "gotten" Giacometti. This is odd because one of my favorite college courses - alas never translated into a book - was on the origins of abstraction. 
Once I got home I read an essay by Jean-Paul Sartre, which I found suggestive. Laying emphasis on the prehistoric and tribalist affinities of the sculptor's work, Sartre held that he in effect sought to repeal the whole history of Western sculpture from the Greeks onward, which in his view depicted only corpses. So much for classicism!

In his thin figures G. was not presenting a pared-down image of shrunken humanity, but rather the emergence, in a kind of quest of the absolute, of a new human concept, one that is still tentative. It is a bit like those timed photos of flowers just beginning to open - but human beings in this case,

Certainly at a time when figuration was being abandoned - think Kandinsky and Mondrian - he affirmed ir in his own way. Food for thought.

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