RESEARCH INTO SCALE
On view in this gallery is a set of works that summarize the different scales in which Alberto Giacometti worked from 1938 onwards. Before his Surrealist period, he had explored numerous variations in the form and dimensions of the bases of his sculptures, which are integral to the work itself. In 1957, he further pursued his investigation of scale and the human figure with The Leg (1958), a monumental piece perched on an enormously high pedestal. Its size and its fragmented state recall ancient sculpture, and this influence recurs in his series of steles with high, column-like bases crowned by male busts, as in Large Head (1960).
Walking Man (1960) is Giacometti’s best-known work and one of the most famous sculptures of the 20th century. In the 1930s he had created Walking Woman, a female figure taking an exquisitely sketched step forward, and his attention had been focused from that moment on the representation of this gesture, inspired by the tradition of Egyptian statues. The artist was aware that he saw the woman only as a disproportionate and immobile statue, an idol of existence, while the man is in motion, advancing with a firm stride.
In 1959 Giacometti revisited this motif—that he had first introduced in his work in 1947—on the occasion of a commission for the plaza of the Chase Manhattan Bank’s New York headquarters. The project, which never saw completion, included Walking Man, a Large Head, and a Tall Woman over 2.5 meters tall.