The other day, I was walking down a street in our neighborhood (Geneva‘s Eaux-Vives) and I saw this plaque. Being an art fan, I knew immediately who this was. Since he’s not a huge art fan, I had to explain why I was so excited to him.
It says “Here lived from 1943 to 1945 Alberto Giacometti 1901-1966 Swiss Sculptor and Painter”. I knew that he was Swiss, but never imagined that I’d live in the same neighborhood that he did. He had been living in Paris, but when the Nazis occupied France, he returned to neutral Switzerland.
Alberto Giacometti is perhaps the most important of the modern humanist artists. His works are especially interesting because they are complex, show conflict and portray a depth of human emotion. For example, the figure is simultaneously flat and rounded, strong and fragile, stark but filled with humanity, abstract fragments are put together make a whole… The skin of his figures crumbles and crawls but the figure remains invincibly upright.
Many artists were impacted by the World Wars. Some say Giacometti showed human beings holding their own in the midst of war’s devestation, humanity surviving the trauma.
At some point his eyes started to glaze over, so I knew I had to make it more interesting for him. I’ll do it for you too. At 16, he contracted the mumps which rendered him sterile. Let’s just say that this damage to his left him with some lingering issues with women, the body, what it means to be a man, etc.
By the way, a version of this one “The Walking Man” sold for over $104,000,000, making it one of the most expensive works ever sold!