Lowry used to paint them but Giacometi made them sculptures. And while Lowry’s pictures go for the odd million, Alberto, had one of his Walking Men go for £65m and that was 7 years ago. But while Lowry was just a fucked up rent collector from Salford when it came to being an artist in the true Parisian and bankable sense, Swiss born Alberto Giacometi was the full nine yards. His dad was a post impressionist artist,he studied in Paris, he was affected by Egyptian and African art, was a pal of Picasso and Miro, influenced Henry Moore, was loved by Lucien Freud and Auerbach, and collaborated with Jean Paul Sartre and Samuel Beckett.
As it happens I like his stuff and thoroughly enjoyed the present blockbuster at the Tate Modern. But as my pal , potter Marshall Coleman says,”Art without ism doesnt really make it.” And Giacometi had a very full set if isms. SurreaI , abstract,existential,this lad ismed for Europe. And when he explained his work he began to moon walk. No gravity of reason or intelligible statement held him back. What he was creating and many of his works are very similar is “the human figure as a continuing illusion of real space.” Maybe that lost a bit in translation.
His matchstick men and women “existential abstractions” are “emblems of the condition of modern humanity ,ravaged by doubt.” Oh yes you are. Some modelled for hours and still ended up looking rather like others he had made thereby emphasising that he was the “Sartre of Sculpture” whatever that means. Modelling didn’t really help for as he said “If you sit for me, you become a perfect stranger even if I know you.” Just to leave you even more confused, his matchstick ,silhouette forms some of which are metres high came from “I wanted to hold onto a certain height, and they became narrow..The more I wanted to make them broader,the narrower they got.”
Moonshine,pure moonshine but he made it work. I consume art,I dont know and don’t really care how its made. Or what the artist thinks he is doing. I could come up with the most pretentious twaddle about why I write this blog. As long as it tastes good why should I care?