The Persistence of Sculptural Abstraction in Alberto Giacometti’s Surrealist Objects, 1929-1935
thesisposted on 18.10.2016 by Heather C. Roach
In order to distinguish essays and pre-prints from academic theses, we have a separate category. These are often much longer text based documents than a paper.
This paper focuses on Alberto Giacometti’s sculpture made between 1929 and 1935 as a member of the surrealist group. I argue that regardless of his surrealist membership, Giacometti worked outside of the surrealist formula for making art and embraced the formal elements inherent in modernism. In this paper I disassociate Giacometti’s work from the representational and symbolic meanings integral to surrealist practice and place his work within a broader modernist conversation of visual art between the two World Wars. I believe surrealism’s expectation to utilize symbolism through assemblage suffocates the modern, universal strengths in Giacometti’s work. By using formal analysis and comparison with his peers, I discover that Giacometti combined aspects of both the modern and the surreal, demonstrating Giacometti’s ability to mesh the contradictions of modernism’s dedication to form and the universal, and surrealism’s dedication to the symbolic and individual. I conclude that Giacometti produced a unique body of artwork through a dialectic engagement between the surrealist object and modern abstraction.