Monday, January 1, 2024

the last book I ever read (The Slip: The New York City Street That Changed American Art Forever, excerpt three)

from The Slip: The New York City Street That Changed American Art Forever by Prudence Peiffer:

Another artist often sighted in the evenings in Montparnasse was Alberto Giacometti. During this period, Simone de Beauvoir described “Giaco” as always being covered in gray plaster: “on his clothes, his hands, and his rich dirty hair. He works in the cold with hands freezing, he does not care.” Giacometti had first made a name for himself loosely associated with the Surrealist movement in Paris, with hybrid sculptures of shapes and animals that threatened to trap or entomb the viewer. After World War II, he began making sculptures that stretched and twisted the human figure into lines of compressed gesture—exclamation points of pain and distorted presence that perfectly fit with the existential reckoning of the postwar world.

In 1951, Giacometti stopped into Kelly’s opening at Galerie Maeght and, looking at the young artist’s paintings, told him, “That’s exactly what I do.” Visiting his big, drafty studio at 46 Rue Hippolyte Maindron, where he worked alone, fifteen hours a day and often at night, Kelly felt a great affinity for the artist who created, in the words of Sartre, “an indistinct figure of a man walking on the horizon.” Sensing that the artist wanted to be alone while he was working, Kelly stayed only a few minutes. “But what he and I did was exactly the same: I mean the spirit of it. His figures were surrounded by emptiness; I lost the figure altogether.”

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