L’Atelier d’Alberto Giacometti, by Jean Genet

This inviting little volume includes thirty-three excellent photographs by Ernest Scheidegger and a famous, short text (around 45 pages’ worth) by Jean Genet.  I don’t know the exact length, since the publishers, with typical French artistic pomposity, decided it would be beneath them to actually number the pages.

Jean Genet was a writer, a poet, a contemptible liar and a thief.  He was a friend of Giacometti’s, an astute observer of his art, was portrayed by him several times, and stole Giacometti’s best drawing of Matisse.  (The drawing was never returned, but a stranger sold it back to Diego Giacometti sometime after his brother’s death.)  James Lord, the great art writer and Giacometti biographer, recounts the story of the theft in his wonderful book Some Remarkable Men, and describes Genet as “vain, mendacious, imperiously unprincipled…and an eloquent champion of ideals which he did not believe.”  But he adds that Giacometti was extremely fond of this little book and that Picasso considered it one of the finest ever written about an artist.

The text is an artful attempt to transpose Giacometti from painting to writing, rather than a documentary account of Giacometti’s studio and his working-process.  There are several fascinating fragments of conversations with Giacometti and some passages that convey the feel of the studio.  Most of all, Genet tries to express the feel of the art itself, occasionally with brilliant success.  The text is free-flowing prose-poetry that sounds like a conversation he might have had at a late-night Parisian café with some stranger who sat down and said, “Now, tell me all about Giacometti.”  (The text is complete with interjections—“Dare I say it?” or “I certainly put that badly; let me try it this way….”)

Genet observes that the space around Giacometti’s sculptures “vibrates” and that they leave nothing at rest.  In one of his best passages, he describes the sensation of touching the sculpture (which you can still do at the Centre Pompidou if you bring an attractive friend to distract the guards):  “Joy, well known and unceasingly fresh, of my fingers, when I ‘walk’ them – my eyes closed – over a statue….At the home of some friends who have two small statues, exact copies of Donatello, I want to repeat the experience with them: the bronze is unresponsive, mute, dead.”

In Giacometti’s studio, “a man is dying slowly, consuming himself, and before our eyes, transforms himself into goddesses.”  The goddesses are Giacometti’s sculptures of women—or more properly, the women themselves, since Giacometti’s whole life was a struggle to compress into painting and sculpture the same force of existence, the same impression of “thingness” he found in life itself.  Watching him work, Genet writes, “I have the moving spectacle of a man who never makes a mistake and yet constantly loses.”  Giacometti would have been the first to admit—in fact, admitted all the time—that he was doomed to fail.  His relentless struggle made him one of the greatest artists of the 20th century.

Interestingness: 9/10

Pretentiousness: 10/10

Insight: 7-10/10, variable

Overall Goodness Rating (OGR): 8/10

L’Atelier d’Alberto Giacometti, by Jean Genet. L’Arbalète, 1963.  Who knows how many pages.

Note: This book is in French; any awkwardness or inaccuracy in the translations is my fault.

219 thoughts on “L’Atelier d’Alberto Giacometti, by Jean Genet

  1. Pingback: cialis 20 mg
  2. Pingback: cialis price
  3. Pingback: levitra vs cialis
  4. Pingback: albuterol inhaler
  5. Pingback: buy viagra cheap
  6. Pingback: ciprofloxacin cost
  7. Pingback: ldn prescription
  8. Pingback: price of cialis
  9. Pingback: buy careprost
  10. Pingback: cialis 20mg price
  11. Pingback: viagra 50mg
  12. Pingback: cheap viagra
  13. Pingback: viagra 100mg
  14. Pingback: impotence pills
  15. Pingback: buy ed pills
  16. Pingback: top rated ed pills
  17. Pingback: rx pharmacy
  18. Pingback: Real cialis online
  19. Pingback: Real cialis online
  20. Pingback: vardenafil cost
  21. Pingback: vardenafil dosage
  22. Pingback: levitra online
  23. Pingback: buy cialis
  24. Pingback: free slots
  25. Pingback: sildenafil viagra
  26. Pingback: casino slots
  27. Pingback: tadalafil 10mg
  28. Pingback: installment loans
  29. Pingback: loans online
  30. Pingback: cash loans
  31. Pingback: viagra pills
  32. Pingback: usa viagra sales
  33. Pingback: red dog casino
  34. Pingback: generic for cialis
  35. Pingback: joshuataf
  36. Pingback: 5 mg cialis
  37. Pingback: generic for cialis
  38. Pingback: cialis buy
  39. Pingback: cialis to buy
  40. Pingback: hollywood casino
  41. Pingback: casino
  42. Pingback: casino world
  43. Pingback: online viagra
  44. Pingback: viagra prices
  45. Pingback: generic cialis
  46. Pingback: purchase viagra
  47. Pingback: buy viagra
  48. Pingback: buy cialis online
  49. Pingback: cialis generic
  50. Pingback: viagra price
  51. Pingback: viagra pills
  52. Pingback: buy viagra china
  53. Pingback: buy sildenafil
  54. Pingback: buy viagra
  55. Pingback: generic viagra
  56. Pingback: Viagra 25mg nz
  57. Pingback: viagra generic
  58. Pingback: sildenafil
  59. Pingback: cialis coupons
  60. Pingback: ciali online
  61. Pingback: viagra substitute
  62. Pingback: viagra dosage
  63. Pingback: cialis online
  64. Pingback: viagra pills
  65. Pingback: viagra cheap
  66. Pingback: cialis 20mg
  67. Pingback: arimidex 1mg uk
  68. Pingback: cheap cialis
  69. Pingback: cialis 20mg uk
  70. Pingback: cialis
  71. Pingback: cheap cialis
  72. Pingback: cialis on line
  73. Pingback: cheap ceftin 500mg
  74. Pingback: celebrex purchase
  75. Pingback: cheap celexa
  76. Pingback: ed meds online
  77. Pingback: cialis price
  78. Pingback: claritin cheap
  79. Pingback: gambling casino
  80. Pingback: casino games
  81. Pingback: slot machines
  82. Pingback: hollywood casino
  83. Pingback: slot machines
  84. Pingback: generic cialis
  85. Pingback: free slots
  86. Pingback: casino slots
  87. Pingback: buy tadalafil
  88. Pingback: aaa car insurance
  89. Pingback: buy cialis
  90. Pingback: quick loan stores
  91. Pingback: get payday loans
  92. Pingback: cialis order
  93. Pingback: 100mg viagra cost
  94. Pingback: viagra 4 tablet
  95. Pingback: write essay online
  96. Pingback: buy an essay
  97. Pingback: assignment helper
  98. Pingback: how to buy clomid