Part woman, part crustacean, and part insect, Woman with Her Throat Cut is rigorously horizontal. Intended by the artist to be placed on the floor without a base, it suggests the violent image of a woman raped and murdered.
Gallery label from 2006.
Giacometti originally intended Woman with Her Throat Cut to rest directly on the floor, part of the “real” world, distanced from the lofty realm of art. A hybrid animal, insect, and human, the female figure’s body appears to be simultaneously in the throes of sexual ecstasy and in the spasms of death—embodying the phrase petite mort (little death), a French term for orgasm. The sexual drama and violence in this work is a powerfully discomfiting example of the misogynistic imagery frequently present in Surrealism.
Gallery label from The Erotic Object: Surrealist Sculpture from the Collection, June 24, 2009–January 4, 2010.