Irony Mastered and Unmastered

  • Lars Iyer


Giacometti destroys his statues, dozens of them. His aim is simple: he means to sculpt the human being in a manner sculpture has been as yet unable to achieve. Upon what techniques does he draw? There is the influence of Egyptian art which, according to Schaefer-an authority with whose work Giacometti was familiar-attempts to depict the essence of a person rather than their real appearance.1 Schaefer attacked the Greek discovery of the artistic representation of perspective because it breaks with the way in which we remember images-frontally or as in profile. Giacometti says enthusiastically: ‘no other sculptures as closely resemble real people as Egyptian sculpture’; but what do they resemble? Not simply the sculptor’s models.2 True, the portraits of Diego, Giacometti’s brother, are noticeably portraits of this and not another individual. But perhaps Giacometti has another kind of resemblance in mind.


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  1. 1.
    Wilson, Alberto Giacometti: Myth, Magic and the Man (Yale University Press, 2003), 167–71. Blanchot’s remarks on Giacometti in the essay I am discussing here is one of the few places where he explicitly considers the visual arts. Does Blanchot privilege literature above other artforms when it comes to his account of the related terms work, worklessness, absence of work, etc? This is a difficult question. In Blanchot’s Communism, thinking of his comments in the last part of The Space of Literature, where the influence of Heidegger is very apparent-but also Blanchot’s attempt to distinguish his position from that of the author of ‘The Origin of the Work of Art’ — I tried to develop a more general account of Blanchotian aesthetics. The following chapter attempts to make the same argument in a more nuanced fashion.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    Sartre, Essays in Aesthetics, translated by Wade Baskin (New York Press: The Citadel Press, 1963), 84.Google Scholar
  3. 36.
    Levinas, Collected Philosophical Papers, translated by Alphonso Lingis (Duquesne University Press, 1998), 39.Google Scholar
  4. 43.
    Cited in Hart, The Dark Gaze: Maurice Blanchot and the Sacred (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004), 204.Google Scholar
  5. 55.
    See Large, Emmanuel Levinas and Maurice Blanchot: Ethics and the Ambiguity of Language (Manchester: Clinamen Press, 2005), ch. four. I am indebted to Large’s book in the present study.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Lars Iyer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lars Iyer
    • 1
  1. 1.Philosophical StudiesUniversity of Newcastle upon TyneUK

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