The roots of modern sculpture lie in the early days of the 20th century, when European artists fell under the influence of primitive African art. At the same time artists were beginning to realize the expressive power of abstraction. Alberto Giacometti was a pioneer of the new sculptural forms.
Alberto Giacometti – Swiss/French
One of the great masters of 20th-century art, the Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti captured the existential loneliness of modern humanity with his spindly, attenuated figures whose life-like gazes pierce the vastness of space. The special quality of Giacometti’s late works has been described as having a Hallucinatory gaze.
“A living person is distinguished from a dead one only by the gaze. So I asked myself – and I’ve often thought about this since then – if it would not basically be better to produce a skull. One wants to sculpt a living head, but the only living element is undoubtedly the gaze. This leads me to the sculptures of the New Hebrides and to Egyptian sculptures. The sculpture of the New Hebrides seems authentic to us, and even more than authentic, because it has a gaze. It is not a matter of imitating an eye, it really is a question of the gaze. All the rest is there only as a bearer of the gaze.” ~ Alberto Giacometti
Bust of a Man (Diego) New York I 1965
Bronze, 21 5/8 x 11 3/8 x 5 ½ in.
The ferocity of the gaze is heralded in the dramatically turbulent and, as it were, seething surface of this upper body that has been reduced to the shape of a cross. As a support, Giacometti uses the head perched on a slender neck, its vehement, protruding eyes, short, distinctive nose and slit-like mouth seeking to wrest a human life from out of his chaos of material.
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