Modern and Contemporary Art
Venetian Woman IX
In the mid-1950s, Alberto Giacometti was invited to participate in the Venice Biennial. During that period, he was working on a group of sculptures whose subject was standing women, and which included Venetian Woman IX. The figures in this series are characterized by elongated, narrow bodies, with their hands close to them, concave pelvises, heavy feet, and an unfocused stare into space.
The rich surface texture of this sculpture enhances its feeling of proximity to the viewer, yet the image – which is as taut as a vibrating string – simultaneously creates an optical illusion of great distance. The vacillation between near and far, between a line in space and an adjacent surface, is reminiscent of the action performed by the zoom lens of a camera, and of its movement between a narrow focal point and a wider field of vision. The sense that the isolated and self-enclosed figure is disappearing into space has led to various interpretations, according to which the subject of this series is the trauma of World War II.
This series of sculptures became one of the most important icons of the Existentialist philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre, who was a close friend of Giacometti's and who dedicated two of his articles to this artist's paintings and sculptures. Giacometti's sculpture exudes existential anxiety, but also a belief in the power of human survival.