On the way out of Tate Modern I was stopped by a market researcher who asked me about my visit. What was its purpose, out of a list of twenty? As I’d been invited to see the Giacometti exhibition by an old friend, I ticked “To spend time with family and friends”. I also ticked “To improve my knowledge of art.”

My knowledge of art was improved by seeing that it took Giacometti thirty years to get into his stride and that those standing/walking figures were influenced by ancient Egyptian art (above). Giacometti was stuck in Switzerland during the war, prevented from returning to his studio in France by the Vichy regime. He worked in a flat and made a virtue of necessity by making sculptures a few centimetres tall (below).

His star rose after the Second World War. Like the young Buffet, he was taken up as an Existentialist artist, responding to the agony, isolationism and futility of existence. (Existentialist art criticism is easy as long as the colours aren’t too bright.)

Cartier-Bresson captured him perfectly (below).

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