The following are thoughts I had on a video interview Giacometti did near the end of his life in the sixties. In the interview, Giacometti kept mentioning that he wasn’t, or would not be, successfully creating sculpture. In fact, he suggested that the future of sculpture would involve different materials and the subject matter he was investigating was secondary to the work he was producing. Giacometti, aside from presenting what he saw through form, was involved in a very important phenomenon that became more apparent in latter artists such as Janine Antoni. This phenomenon is the focus on the process of production rather than a finished object. The product cannot be separated from production; the product of sculpture is the residue of a complex obsessive exploration.
Giacometti’s attachment to the traditional representation of the figure held him back from what I believe was the subject of his work. I ask the question; what he was trying to get at and how does this compare to what he ended up with? These questions of the ‘being of the thing’, as Heidegger puts it, rattles through my head and ends up being crucial to how I perceive sculpture. Giacometti was looking to get at the essence of his perception from a representational subject based on an optical focus.
Another approach was needed for what Giacometti was exploring, an abstract approach that is focused on the process of perception. The key to getting at perception in art is focusing on the processes of the perceiver in relation to the perceived. He was full of an idea, a very particular obsessive focus on rendering his experience of what he was seeing. Of course, he could not quite get what he was looking for. It’s impossible to capture a person in a portrait, to freeze what we see and experience in a static form. But at the same time, it is this futility in Giacometti work that compels me to continue to research his work. I see perception as fluid; representation traditionally is inert and this presents a disconnect between the process and the sculpture.
Part of what Giacometti did so successfully was to compress experience and his sculpture exudes this compression. The experience brings the relationship between the subject and its surroundings into a set of compressed moments, into a compressed form. The incompleteness of perception is as his sculptures are – incomplete yet present.