Show Less
Restricted access

Writing Art

French Literary Responses to the Work of Alberto Giacometti


Emma Wagstaff

The Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti participated in Parisian literary and cultural circles from the early meetings of the Surrealists to existentialism and the diverse currents in art and poetry that followed. Numerous writers were inspired to respond to his sculpture, drawing, painting and publications during his lifetime and after his death in 1966. This book considers examples of poésie critique devoted to Giacometti’s work by major French poets and thinkers from André Breton to Yves Bonnefoy. Through close readings of key texts, it discusses the extent to which each writer has succeeded in overcoming the dichotomy between a text and its visual stimulus that so often leads to a hierarchical relationship. Many of these writers focus on the materiality of Giacometti’s works of art and of the written word. Examination of their writings thus allows new understandings of poésie critique and ekphrasis to be developed.
Contents: Introduction to Giacometti reception, to the history of poésie critique and to critical debates in word and image studies – Analysis of texts by André Breton and Jean-Paul Sartre to examine the ways in which they make the viewer’s response to Giacometti’s work the subject – Comparison between the prose poems of René Char and the poetic prose of Francis Ponge, considering their responses to Giacometti’s art as performative – Discussion of the extent to which writings on Giacometti by Jean Genet, Jacques Dupin and Yves Bonnefoy might be deemed ‘haptic’ – Presentation of texts by Michel Leiris and André du Bouchet as enacting the disruptive effects of their stimulus on their form, in the light of Lyotard’s discussion of the figure in distinction to discours.