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Alberto Giacometti. Woman with Her Throat Cut. 1932 (cast 1949)

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Alberto Giacometti (Swiss, 1901–1966)

Woman with Her Throat Cut

1932 (cast 1949)
8 x 34 1/2 x 25" (20.3 x 87.6 x 63.5 cm)
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MoMA Number:
© 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Audio Program excerpt

Alberto Giacometti

, October 11, 2002–January 8, 2003

Curator Emeritus, Carolyn Lanchner: When Giacometti made Woman with Her Throat Cut in 1932, he did something extraordinary. He laid this Surrealist sculpture directly on the floor without a base or pedestal. That changed the relationship of the viewer to the object, distancing it from the lofty realm of art and thrusting it into the real world.

What exactly does it represent? The title says "woman" but the shape also suggests an insect, or a crab. The title identifies it as a victim, yet it has a palpably menacing air. The oblong phallus-like object is moveable and Giacometti preferred it to be displayed as it is here, in the leaf-like hand, implying that the violent encounter had ended badly for the attacker as well as the victim.

The Surrealists delighted in public confessions. In that spirit, Giacometti recounted his youthful fantasies of sexual aggression.

Artist, Alberto Giacometti (read by actor): I thought that between a man and a woman there could be only incompatibility, war, violence. The woman would not submit till bodily resistance was exhausted; the man raped her.

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