Feb 062010

Just the other day 65 million pounds ($104.3 million) was paid for one copy of an edition of 6 bronzes of Giacometti’s “Walking Man”. I feel personally indebted to Giacometti as the one among the mega-buck heroes whose drawings should be venerated by posterity.

But surely in a world that is suffering economically and teetering on the brink of climate catastrophe this “investment” by a bank is a disgrace. It can benefit no living person by reward for work or ideas. It brings nothing new into the world. It simply locks up money that could be spent positively. Investors in art might turn their attention to struggling living artists whose ideas they cherish as of probable benefit to mankind in the future.

I first saw Giacometti’s work at an Arts Council exhibition around 1955. As I wandered round the exhibition I was a bit perplexed by the works but within a week my understanding of Rembrandt’s works took a great leap forward.

Giacometti’s drawings are exclusively about space. His attention is always on what I call the space clues: the section round the forms created by the neck-line, waist-line and drapery passing over the thighs or arms. He defines the air/space by the pattern of chair legs and sculpture-stands across the floor or the pictures on the walls. He did not seem to care about anything else.

Through his concentration on space I came to realize that Rembrandt used the intimate space between his characters. It is this intimate space that is the key, I believe, to the expressive quality in Rembrandt’s work. Previously I had been so enamoured of the solid, sculptural quality I had not noticed that space also speaks.

Because of this important insight I received from Giacometti I will always revere his drawings; I do not really understand what people see in the sculptures. They seem to me far less grand than the Etruscan work on which they are based. “The Walking Man” seems to me particularly feeble.

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