Sculpture: The Desperate Man

As if stripped to the bone by the howling winds of life, a man strides past another on a barren pedestal. Both figures are skeletal, their contours a last frontier against nothingness. Both, despite their perilous proximity, seem abandoned in a void. But they exist. This is the main and master image in the art of Alberto Giacometti. It is his desperate, yet defiant picture of mankind, a symbol of the mid-20th century crisis of humanism—and the likeness of Giacometti himself.

Son of a Swiss impressionist painter, Giacometti went to Paris in 1922 to study with Rodin's pupil Bourdelle, and...

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