7. Fragments and visions
Giacometti’s work studies the part as an evocation of the whole, and the emergence of a vision in the spectator’s space. In 1921 and 1946, Giacometti witnessed two deaths which left him with an indelible memory.
At the bedside of the first dying person he was fascinated by his nose which seemed to him to grow longer as life ebbed away. In front of the corpse of the second person, he remembered the head tipped backwards, the open mouth, the skeletal limbs, and the terror felt at the idea that the dead was everywhere and that its hand might pass through the walls and reach him. Pursued by visions of heads suspended in the void, he strove to convey them in sculpture.
He had been fascinated since boyhood by the human gaze, and the impression that life lies in the eyes was now heightened. Talking about those years, he declared: “I cannot simultaneously see the eyes, the hands, and the feet of a person standing two or three yards in front of me, but the only part that I do look at entails a sensation of the existence of everything.”