Alberto Giacometti. Disagreeable Object. 1931

Alberto Giacometti

Disagreeable Object


6 1/8 x 19 5/16 x 4 5/16" (15.6 x 49.1 x 11 cm)
Private collection, promised gift to The Museum of Modern Art, New York, in honor of Kirk Varnedoe
Object number
© 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Painting and Sculpture
This work is not on view.
Alberto Giacometti has 83 works  online.
There are 1,565 sculptures online.

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.

Gallery label from 2006

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.

Gallery label from The Erotic Object: Surrealist Sculpture from the Collection, June 24, 2009–January 4, 2010

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