In 1933, Giacometti published a statement describing his artistic process, referring specifically to works like The Palace at 4 A.M. "For many years I have executed only sculptures that have presented themselves to my mind entirely completed. I have limited myself to reproducing them in space without changing anything, without asking myself what they could mean.... The attempts to which I have sometimes given way, of conscious realization of a picture or even a sculpture, have always failed." This work with its spindly wood scaffolding, sheet of glass, and delicate skeletons is a vertical, immaterial drawing in space.
Gallery label from 2006.
According to Giacometti, The Palace at 4 a.m. relates to "a period of six months passed in the presence of a woman who, concentrating all life in herself, transported my every moment into a state of enchantment. We constructed a fantastical palace in the night—a very fragile palace of matches. At the least false movement a whole section would collapse. We always began it again." The woman in question is often identified as one of Giacometti's lovers, known only by her first name, Denise. In the summer of 1933 Giacometti told André Breton, the leader of the Surrealist movement, that he was incapable of making anything that did not have something to do with her.
Gallery label from The Erotic Object: Surrealist Sculpture from the Collection, June 24, 2009–January 4, 2010.