Sunday, March 17, 2013

Prodigiously alive

When Michel Leiris encountered the work of Alberto Giacometti -- and wrote the first ever piece about this then still relatively unknown sculptor in the journal Documents in 1929 -- he immediately recognised the 'tender sphinx':

One finds some objects (paintings or sculptures) capable of responding more or less to the exigencies of true fetishism, to the love of ourselves, projected from the inside out and clothed in a solid carapace which imprisons it within the limits of a precise thing and situates it, like a  piece of furniture of which we can make use in the vast strange chamber we call the true fetishes which one can idolize (those which resemble us and are the objective form of our desire), prodigiously alive.... the beautiful expression of that emotional ambivalence, the tender sphinx that one always nourishes more or less secretly, at the center of oneself.
Of course, I'm relying here on Laurie Wilson for this piece of Leiris (pp. 95-96). Why is it that the journal, Documents, is so impossible to find, either in libraries nearby or the long white depth of the web?

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