Becoming an Art Object: Giacometti @ Tate Modern

As you head in to the gallery you encounter a crowd of busts from Giacometti. It's immediately obvious how Giacometti goes from merely representing life to creating life. Giacometti at the Tate Modern tells the artist's story and his continued attempts to describe human beings at a time when humanity had seemingly left Europe.


The war had a drastic impact on Giacometti's work; from surrealism, sex and history; his work shifted its focus to the form of humanity. Following the horrors of the Second World War nothing seemed to matter but people and human life. His familiar spindly figures breath and ripple as you circumnavigation them. Sartre described perfectly the impossible, absolute distance which is maintained as you move towards the objects. Perspective, form and the illusion of space combine to create living, breathing beings whose shape endlessly mutates. It's as if they are inhabitants of higher dimensions moving through our sphere of experience: simultaneously modern, ancient and timeless.


Giacometti describes his inability to recognise his sitters after they posed for him as they became his art objects. He'd made something more real, more alive than the people who'd sat for him. Giacometti managed to translate the experience of staring into a loved ones eyes in to an object.


As you look in to the eyes of one of Giacometti's sculptures or drawings, our world melts away as a new one forms around us. Looking at his miniature sculptures you feel, not large by comparison but minuscule as you experience the weight of Giacometti's universe, one which is much more real than ours, bearing down upon you. His iconically thin figures portray the ever changing form of living humanity. Giacometti constructed ever changing worlds which are more real than our own and the beings which inhabit them are more human than us.

Mike Thebridge