Alberto Giacometti is one of the best-known artists of the twentieth century.Born in a Swiss village,he moved to prewar Paris and went on to play a leading role in the art world,alongside characters such as Picasso,Balthus,Samuel Beckett and Sartre.His passionate and strange life reflects the genius of his works-his gaunt and haunting sculptures and his unsettling paintings. As someone who was personally acquainted with Giacometti and his peers,and who has consolidated his personal knowledge with extensive research,James Lord is uniquely qualified to write Giacommeti's biography.
A major biography of one of the great sculptors of our time. Lord, who turned a chance encounter with Giacometti in 1952 into a lifelong obsession, here gives us a story of a life lived purely for art, and in the process he has gone far towards giving the reader an understanding of the creative process itself. His approach is warts-and-all. And Giacometti's warts - his incomprehensible mean-spiritedness to the women in his life, particularly his wife, his sexual obsessiveness, his destructive tantrums - stand out here. But they are the warts of genius. Lord mixes the documentary with the spiritual in recounting those momentary flashes when Giacometti would suddenly, as if transfixed, see a whole new way of viewing his world. How quickly, then, his sculptures would adapt to his new vision, be it Cubist or Surreal, or his own elongated, flat-planed figures (or portions of figures - as in The Leg). Lord does not pretend to have been an intimate of Giacometti's. But one gets the distinct impression upon reading this biography that he nevertheless got a rare glimpse into the soul of a genius. Along the way, we get many little side-biographies of the great cultural figures with whom Giacometti shared his days and nights - Sartre, Genet, Picasso, and many more. Lord has written, all in all, a much more personal view of Giacometti than have the more conventional biographers, such as Jacques Dupin. The result is a definitive biography. (Kirkus Reviews)