The Erotic Object: Surrealist Sculpture from the Collection
June 24, 2009–January 4, 2010
Giacometti's Disagreeable Object—part caressable object, threatening weapon, and sinuous sculptural form—may be described as a fetish. A fetish is an object of fixation, regarded with irrational reverence or obsessive devotion, be it a commercial product, a ceremonial object, or, as defined by Sigmund Freud, any essentially ordinary item that is the focus of erotic desire. Giacometti's use of wood powerfully connects Disagreeable Object to the realm of tribal artifacts and ethnographic fetishes, considered by many of the artist's friends to be "true fetishes" because they were believed by their original owners to possess magic powers.
Giacometti referred to his so–called Disagreeable Objects as "objects without pedestal and without value," thereby distancing them from the realm of traditional sculpture. Produced at the height of his involvement with Surrealism, this object was intended to be touched, and could be displayed in different positions. The smooth carved wood phallus, with its pointed and spiked tip, embodies the opposing forces of desire and menace.