In December 1958, through his New York dealer Pierre Matisse, Giacometti was invited to submit a project for a monument to be installed in the square being built in front of the new Chase Manhattan Bank skyscraper in Manhattan. In February 1959, the architect of this urban complex, Gordon Bunshaft, sent him the dimensions for making a model of the square, designed to help Giacometti to imagine the space, because the artist had never set foot in the United States.
Giacometti decided to use, on a grand scale, the three motifs which had haunted his oeuvre since 1948: a gigantic standing female figure, a large walking man, and a monumental head set on the ground, all arranged in relation to each other. With this monument, for the first time, he permitted spectators to enter his wonderful world where trees were women and stones were heads, a magical glade criss-crossed by the fleeting forms of walking men. In the end, the monument was not installed in New York, because the artist backed out of the competition in 1961.
Giacometti chose to produce each of the sculptures separately in bronze, and showed a first version of this set at the 1962 Venice Biennale. Another version was installed in 1964 in the Fondation Maeght’s courtyard overlooking a pine wood on the Côte d’Azur.