The Walking Man: Alberto Giacometti’s major work

Published on : 08 September 20212 min reading time

Alberto Giacometti’s “Walking Man” is known throughout the world. It is a creation in bronze, a very heavy material, which contrasts quite naturally with the nakedness and fragility of this moving body. The man he represents seems lonely and solitary, pathetic because his feet are rooted. The man is alone against the world.

A remarkable work

A man moving forward, a threadlike figure, reminiscent of a sketch and a body marked by extreme thinness. Huge legs that stretch the figure lengthwise, but which seem to walk in a determined manner. The knees are stiff, the arms slightly bent seem to maintain this long body in a single position without reproducing the swinging effect that the human body has when moving. The head is in exact extension with the left leg and the torso leaning forward seems to carry the whole figure in this forward movement. The man, whose body has almost nothing human about it, has disproportionately large feet, a blurred face with no details and cannot be identified with a real person.

A masterpiece of modern sculpture

Alberto Giacometti created ‘Walking Man’ in 1960 and there are several versions of it. It is an emblematic work of the artist and has left a lasting impression on the world of sculpture. As there are several prints, it is possible to admire the masterpiece in several places, such as the Giacometti Institute in Paris and the Maeght Foundation in Saint-Paul-de-Vence. “Walking Man” is the concrete translation of a new humanism from the post-war period. Alberto Giacometti distinguished himself by his etic silhouettes in which volume is reduced to a simple line, but which comes alive through a singular treatment of the surface.

A sculptor inspired by Rodin

Giacometti was influenced by Etruscan art and the shapes of the bodies cast after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in Pompeii. In 1932, he first sculpted a Walking Woman, before creating the Walking Man fifteen years later. The work is also the result of the trauma of war, the Nazi concentration camps and the anguish of a nuclear holocaust. Versions 1 to 3 date from the 1960s when the artist sought to enter the American art market. He made several castings of Walking Man before the work became the high point of his artistic creation.

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