6. A woman like a tree, a head like a stone

Fondation Giacometti -  6. A woman like a tree, a head like a stone

Anonymous, Alberto Giacometti holding Three Men Walking I (large base), 1948, coll.Fondation Giacometti, Paris.
© Succession Giacometti (Fondation Giacometti, Paris et ADAGP, Paris)

It was in Switzerland, where Giacometti spent the Second World War, that he had the idea in 1944-45 for the sculpture which would be the prototype for his postwar standing figures: the Woman with Chariot, which depicts the image of his English friend Isabel from memory.

The sculpture of a standing figure, facing forward with her arms beside her body and her face expressionless, is a fine example of Giacometti’s research between 1945 and 1965 involving the space of representation: the figures were either set on pedestals which isolated them from the ground, or incorporated in “cages” forming a virtual space. Some compositions like The Glade were placed on flat surfaces raised above pedestal level – here, too, it was a matter of establishing a space parallel to ours. The standing female figures are allusive silhouettes, sometimes reduced to a line, and invariably approached by way of successive phases conveyed by series.

The Four Women on a Base and Four Figurines on a Stand materialize two visions involving four standing women seen from a distance, and in different circumstances. With the Three Men Walking Giacometti tried to grasp in sculpture the fleeting sight of figures in motion. In 1950, Giacometti produced a series of sculptures conveying the image of a clearing where the trees were women and the stones men’s heads – an image which he would later push to its extreme, in a life-size piece.

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