Dora Maar, “Alberto Giacometti’s Sculpture ‘Hands Holding Void (Invisible Object)’ in his studio”, Paris, 1934

It’s a very tricky task to try to interpret the work of one artist (especially as significant as Alberto Giacometti) as a part of the work of art made by another artist (especially as talented as Dora Maar). Why Dora Maar decided to make the photo of Giacometti’s sculpture inside his studio and in addition to this filled with another his works some of which couldn’t be even finished? Sculptures usually aren’t exposed inside the studio. It’s like to perceive human life as a part of life of the planet Earth – the connection is obvious but it’s not helping us much in understanding human problems – tautology swallows meaning. Besides, the sculptor inside his studio is like god in a creative mood – what is in the world – was in god or the artist’s mind before. Is it a right time for the public to see the product of the creative mind when it’s still in the studio? What could motivate Dora Maar to expose Giacometti’s work when it’s not yet fully finished?

May be, every artist is a bit like the figure with hands holding the void as an invisible object? The very creative gesture – gesture of creating includes holding and caring about an Invisible Object perceived by the creator as a precious potentiality, as a future baby is for a woman dreaming about it, or as a belief is for a believer a uniquely worthy object.

Of course, the object of creative or even dogmatic belief as dearest to a believer is ambiguous – the void is ambiguously empty, the emptiness is objectively cannot be reliable. The dreamer is always between yes of not, black and white, blue and brown, hot and cold, existence and non-existence, between one and zero (the fertile “one” vs the dead-end zero), between being loved and being betrayed.

The utopian belief or sentimental optimism or the very experience of having been drastically wrong about important matters, or being treacherously abandoned makes the very gesture of holding the void tragic or ironic. Emotionally nurturing an invisible object has a wide spectrum of connotations from romantic accent on belief in goodness to ironic one on utopian indulgence.

Let’s look at Maar’s photo more attentively. The heavy object pressing the feet of the figure (whose hands hold the invisible object) and paralyzing its movements is a symbolic attribute of any believer including a creative artist fixated on his/her creative efforts and the very products of his/her creativity. This fixation makes the believers and even creators (until the last ones didn’t yet distance themselves from their still invisible objects) – static, stationary, without a nomadic “gene”. The frozen position of the hands holding the void corresponds to the lost ability for dynamic inquisitiveness, which as a rule will return to the creative individuals, but will forever keep most of the believers in a petrified state of the soul.

Because Dora Maar has brought us into Giacometti’s studio we got the opportunity to see not only the statue “holding a void” but the other three objects of the sculptor’s inspiration – the bird (behind the holder of the void), the child (to the right of her) and – in the darkness in the corner – a small revolutionary with a toy-size flag. All these three mini-sculptures have the same particularity as the androgynous figure holding the invisible object, as the two artists themselves and any believer in his/her precious emptiness – the object of his/her belief.

The bird is expressing its excitation about life and light by filling the studio with its insisting tweets. It doesn’t know what her song is about, but it knows that this song has a point and that it has a right to utter it. The child (with awkward body of a square) has a sad, almost crying eyes and pouched lips trying to keep the sulking inside – the adults are always occupied with their “empty” interests while the child is alone. Finally we reach the abandoned, dark corner of the place of Giacometti’s inspiration, where we discern the forgotten little figure of revolutionary still trying to wave his toy-flag, tirelessly, stubbornly, desperately, continuing to rely on his “sacred” belief.

Are the bird, the child and the revolutionary the abandoned babies of their androgynous mother suckling the new invisible object(s) of her belief, like before she was suckling her previous “voids” (invisible objects), before they became concrete, earthly creatures settling now in the backs and corners of Giacometti’s studio. Creative instincts of the creators – worshippers of their own inspiration – gods and artists – love their creations only before they became incarnated – when their essence can be imagined as more perfect than reality. That’s why god-father has retreated from Earth. That’s why Christ was sent down to compensate life for God’s disappointment.

That’s why Giacometti ended his creative life with a completely new style corresponding to a destroyed – degraded condition of human beings (corresponding to the position of the bird, child and the revolutionary mini-sculptures in his studio and don’t deserve to be admired because they’re no longer in the creator’s dreams).