Three Men Walking II, Alberto Giacometti (Swiss, Borgonovo 1901–1966 Chur), Bronze

Three Men Walking II

Alberto Giacometti (Swiss, Borgonovo 1901–1966 Chur)
30 1/8 x 13 x 12 3/4 in. (76.5 x 33 x 32.4 cm)
Credit Line:
Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, 1998
Accession Number:
Rights and Reproduction:
© 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Not on view
Giacometti was born into a Swiss family of artists. His early work was informed by Surrealism and Cubism, but in 1947 he settled into producing the kind of expressionist sculpture for which he is best known. His characteristic figures are extremely thin and attenuated, stretched vertically until they are mere wisps of the human form. Almost without volume or mass (although anchored with swollen, oversize feet), these skeletal forms appear weightless and remote. Their eerie otherworldliness is accentuated by the matte shades of gray and beige paint, sometimes accented with touches of pink or blue, that the artist applied over the brown patina of the metal. The rough, eroded, heavily worked surfaces of "Three Men Walking (II)" typify his technique. Reduced, as they are, to their very core, these figures evoke lone trees in winter that have lost their foliage. Within this style, Giacometti would rarely deviate from the three themes that preoccupied him—the walking man; the standing, nude woman; and the bust—or all three, combined in various groupings.

Giacometti's work can be seen to balance the concerns of the modern and the historical as well as the specific and the universal. While many have viewed his sculptures as emblematic of the horrors of World War II or representative of the alienation of modern urban life, his figures also contain specific allusions to ancient Egyptian burial figures and to early Greek korai. At the same time, the fragile figures are universalized, their tentative movements expressive of an essential human condition. In this work, the figures take wide steps, each in a different direction. The empty space around them acts as an obstacle to communication. They stride along, each untouched by another, alienated by the void that surrounds them.

#1925. Three Men Walking II
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Inscription: Signed and numbered (on plinth): A Giacometti 1/6

Marking: Inscribed (on base): Alexis Rudier Fondeur Paris
H. Arnold (until 1950; sold in 1950 to Pierre Matisse); [Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York, 1950; sold in 1950 to Rice]; Mrs. Marcus Rice, St. Louis, Mo. (from 1950; sold to Thaw and Matisse); [Eugene V. Thaw & Co. and Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York, until 1965; sold by Thaw on April 13, 1965 to Gelman]; Jacques and Natasha Gelman, Mexico City and New York (1965–his d. 1986); Natasha Gelman, Mexico City and New York (1986–d. 1998; her bequest to MMA)

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Twentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection," December 12, 1989–April 1, 1990, unnumbered cat. (p. 256).

London. Royal Academy of Arts. "Twentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection," April 19–July 15, 1990, unnumbered cat.

Martigny. Fondation Pierre Gianadda. "De Matisse à Picasso: Collection Jacques et Natasha Gelman," June 18–November 1, 1994, unnumbered cat. (p. 280).

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Painters in Paris: 1895–1950," March 8–December 31, 2000, extended to January 14, 2001, not in catalogue.

Jean-Paul Sartre. "Giacometti: In Search of Space." Art News 54 (September 1955), ill. p. 26 (not this cast).

Valerie J. Fletcher. Alberto Giacometti, 1901–1966. Exh. cat., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Washington, D. C., 1988, p. 138, under no. 42, ill. (not this cast).

Sabine Rewald in Twentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection. Ed. William S. Lieberman. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1989, pp. 256–59, 299, ill. (color and bw).