Walking Wounded: Quick Bite

Today on Museum Quick Bites we’re taking a stroll with Alberto Giacometti’s, Three Men Walking II (1948-1949), on display at the Art Institute of Chicago. Gaunt and gangly, Giacometti crafted a series of these bronze figures to symbolize the physical and emotional trauma he and others were experiencing after World War II.

Three Men Walking II (1948-1949) by Alberto Giacometti, Art Institute of Chicago, Photo by cjverb (2019)
Three Men Walking II (1948-1949) by Alberto Giacometti, Art Institute of Chicago, Photo by cjverb (2019)

Zoom in and notice how the trio shuffles past one another. Their thick feet appear to slog through mud. Like strangers in a crowd, they do not gaze in one another’s direction. Perhaps they are caught up in their own pain, anxiety, despair…a timeless concept, especially these past few months.

Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966) was born in Borgonovo, Switzerland into a family of artists. His father, Giovanni (1868-1933) and godfather, Cuno Amiet (1868-1961) were successful painters. At 18, Alberto left home to study at the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and subsequently the École des Artes et Métiers in Geneva. After receiving his degree, he traveled throughout Italy and was especially taken by ancient art, particularly Egyptian striding figures.

In the 1920s, Alberto settled in Paris with his younger brother, Diego. Alberto continued his studies while Diego designed furniture and served as an assistant and model for his older brother. During this time, Alberto’s art was inspired by Cubism and eventually Surrealism. His work was light, playful, toy-like. But then Hitler and the Nazis rose to power.

Nazis Invade Paris (1940) Deutsches Bundesarchiv, Wikimedia Commons
Nazis Invade Paris (1940) Deutsches Bundesarchiv, Wikimedia Commons

In the summer of 1940, the Giacometti brothers fled on bicycles to the south of France to escape the Nazi invasion of Paris. They made a brief return, but later that year the two escaped to Geneva where they remained for the duration of the war. During this time, Alberto began to create his frail figures. Initially building them up with clay and then whittling them down to their emaciated forms.

In addition to sculpture, Alberto was a painter, draftsman, printmaker, and set designer. If you’d like to see more of his work and learn more about his life, click on this Alberto Giacometti link, courtesy of The Art Story.

That wraps up our look at the Alberto Giacometti’s Three Men Walking II. I’ll be on holiday for the next two weeks and will return in mid-July with more Museum Quick Bites. Until then, be safe, be kind, and take care!

Alone in a crowd by Grae Dickason, Pixabay-100px Cover photo by Grae Dickason, courtesy of Pixabay.


Art Institute of Chicago: Alberto Giacometti

Britannica: Alberto Giacometti

Guggenheim: Alberto Giacometti

Museum Bites: Bronzed Beauties


Tate: Alberto Giacometti

The Art Story: Giacometti Alberto

Wikimedia Commons

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