To Be or Not To Be

Alberto Giacometti is primarily known for his sculptures, one of which, Walking Man I, broke all sales records for a single work of art as of February 2010. (Are you saying: WHO?) But as the son of a successful painter born in 1901 in a small Swiss village, he also produced many drawings and paintings before his death in Paris in 1966—most of which are nothing but gray! He says: “If I see everything in gray, and in gray all the
colors which I experience and which I would like to reproduce, then why should
I use any other color? I’ve tried doing so, for it was never my intention to
paint only with gray. But in the course of my work I have eliminated one color
after another, and what has remained is gray, gray, gray!”

To hear him talk, to watch him work, to know that when he
moved into a small rat-hole of a studio in Montparnasse in which he only
intended to stay for a year, but stayed for forty, may simply tell a tale of a
guy with obsessive-compulsive disorder.  But there is also a philosophical interpretation–“When I make my drawings… the path traced by my pencil on the sheet of paper is, to some extent, analogous to the gesture of a man groping his way in the darkness.”

Samuel Beckett, existential poet and author of the absurdist play, “Waiting for Godot” and good drinking buddy of Giacometti’s, said of the artist: “things were insolvable
[for him], but that kept him going.”

His biographer, Michael Peppiatt says: “he stands out in the 20th century as the artist who reconnected art to the great traditions of the Egyptians and other ancient civilizations,
capturing the precariousness of man’s existence, the nobility and vulnerability
of the human condition, which is what all great art is fundamentally about.”

We’ll take a look at this artist this week and see what his methods reveal for us.

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