THE "CAGES" AND THE DELIMITATION OF SPACE; THE STREET AND THE PLAZA
In 1935, Giacometti distanced himself from the Surrealist movement and went back to working from life models, such as his brother Diego and professional model Rita Gueyfier, who posed for him every day. The sculptor explored various molding techniques, and moved from working with geometrical facets to a more expressive treatment.
In the 1940s, during World War II, Giacometti started to make thin, elongated figures with blurred outlines suggesting the human form seen from a distance. He said that full figures seemed false to him, and that only when represented as long and stylized were they faithful to his vision of human beings.
Giacometti returned to the motif of the box in numerous works of the early 1950s, such as Figurine between Two Houses (1950). The box is a graphic allusion to various concepts related to existentialism, such as confinement, isolation, and anguish, which can be linked to existence itself. The same idea underlies his works on the theme of the “cage,” with which he had already experimented during his Surrealist phase. This can be seen in The Nose (1947), whose tip literally pierces the surrounding frame and protrudes to the exterior.
In The Forest (1950), various elongated figures anchored to a base are assembled by Giacometti in such a way as to resemble a forest. They are standing straight, like trees, and close to one another, but they do not touch. The relationship among these long tree-like figures is created through the negative space they share. This and other similar pieces, either with single figures or groups, express the ideas Giacometti was reflecting on at that moment, including his conviction that we can feel isolated even in an open-air space packed with people, such as a street or a plaza.