Great article:

Alberto Giacometti Life and Art Periods

“All the art of the past rises up before me, the art of all ages and all civilizations, everything becomes simultaneous, as if space had replaced time. Memories of works of art blend with affective memories, with my work, with my whole life.”


Alberto Giacometti’s remarkable career traces the shifting enthusiasms of European art before and after the Second World War. As a Surrealist in the 1930s, he devised innovative sculptural forms, sometimes reminiscent of toys and games. And as anExistentialist after the war, he led the way in creating a style that summed up the philosophy’s interests in perception, alienation and anxiety. Although his output extends into painting and drawing, the Swiss-born and Paris-based artist is most famous for his sculpture. And he is perhaps best remembered for his figurative work, which helped make the motif of the suffering human figure a popular symbol of post-war trauma.


Giacometti’s work of the 1930s represents probably the most important contribution to Surrealist sculpture. In an effort to explore themes derived from Freudianpsychoanalysis, like sexuality, obsession and trauma, he developed a variety of different sculptural objects. Some were influenced by primitive art, but perhaps most striking were those that resemble games, toys, and architectural models. They almost encourage the viewer to physically interact with them, an idea which was very radical at the time.
In the late 1930s, Giacometti abandoned abstraction and Surrealism, becoming more interested in how to represent the human figure in a convincing illusion of real space. He wanted to depict figures in such a way as to capture a palpable sense of spatial distance, so that we, as viewers, might share in the artist’s own sense of distance from his model, or from the encounter that inspired the work. The solution he arrived at involved whittling the figures down to the slenderest proportions.
Giacometti’s post-war achievement – finding a language through which to represent the figure in real space – impressed the many writers of the period who were interested in Phenomenology and Existentialism. Both of these philosophies contained ideas about self-consciousness and how we relate to other human beings, and Giacometti’s art was thought to powerfully capture the tone of melancholy, alienation and loneliness that these ideas suggested.
Although the 1950s art world of both Europe and the United States was dominated by abstract painting, Giacometti’s figurative sculpture came to be a hugely influential model of how the human figure might return to art. His figures represented human beings alone in the world, turned in on themselves and failing to communicate with their fellows, despite their overwhelming desire to reach out.


Gazing Head (1928)
In his early years, Giacometti often experienced difficulty in sculpting from life. In this despair, he began to work from memory. The early plaster bust Gazing Head, arguably the artist’s first truly original work, illustrates the culmination of this effort. The flatness of the head and face – Giacometti’s economical placement of smooth divots for definition – result in a bust that is at once abstract and figurative. And yet the underlying theme of the work, the act of gazing, invites viewers to ponder whether what they are looking at is in fact a mirror. When Gazing Head was first exhibited in Paris in 1929, it immediately grabbed the attention of the French Surrealists, beginning an association that would cement the early part of Giacometti’s career.
Plaster – Alberto Giacometti-Stiftung, Zurich



Alberto Giacometti was born in 1901 in the mountain hamlet of Borgonovo, in eastern Switzerland. He was the first of four children born to Giovanni Giacometti, a Post-Impressionist painter, and Annetta Giacometti-Stampa, whose family was among the area’s prominent land owners. In addition to his father, several members of Giacometti’s extended family were artists, including Augusto Giacometti (second cousin to both Giovanni and Annetta), who was a Symbolist painter, and Cuno Amiet, Alberto’s godfather and a close family friend, who was a Fauvist.

When Giacometti was no older than ten, he began to send pencil and crayon drawings to his godfather Amiet, most of which he saved and survive today. And in the years that followed, he began to experiment with oils and still-lifes, often using his siblings as models. He produced his first painting at age twelve.



Both of the important phases of Giacometti’s career yielded innovations that influenced a wide range of artists. His Surrealist sculpture of the 1930s, for instance, influencedHenry Moore, partly inspiring the Surrealism that would be such an important component of Moore’s practice throughout his life. It is certainly hard to imagine Moore’s own innovative experiments in the 1930s without Giacometti’s example. And Giacometti’s figurative work was vital in re-establishing the figure as a viable motif in the post-war period, at a time when abstract art dominated. His spindly bronze figures, which appear punctured and fragile, compressed in space, are in many respects visual manifestations of Existentialist thought, emblems of the condition of modern humanity ravaged by doubt.


“Let me know how to make only one and I will be able to make a thousand.”

“Just the same, if I begin my statue, as they do, with the tip of the nose, then an infinity of time will not be too much before I get to the nostrils.”

“When I make my drawings … the path traced by my pencil on the sheet of paper is, to some extend, analogous to the gesture of a man groping his way in the darkness.”

“All the art of the past rises up before me, the art of all ages and all civilizations, everything becomes simultaneous, as if space had replaced time. Memories of works of art blend with affective memories, with my work, with my whole life.”



André Derain

Constantin Brancusi

Hans Arp

Joan Miró

Pablo Picasso

André Masson

Louis Aragon


Max Ernst

Georges Bataille





Alberto Giacometti Bio Photo
Alberto Giacometti
Years Worked: 1920 – 1966

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Art and the Bible
by Francis Schaeffer

art forms add strength to the world-view

Art forms add strength to the world-view which shows through, no matter what the world-view is or whether the world-view is true or false. Think, for example, of a side of beef hanging in a butcher shop. It just hangs there. But if you go to the Louvre and look at Rembrandt’s painting, Side of Beef Hanging in a Butcher Shop, it’s very different. It’s startling to come upon this particular work because it says a lot more than its title. Rembrandt’s art causes us to see the side of beef in a concentrated way, and, speaking for myself, after looking and looking at his picture I have never been able to look at a side of beef in a butcher shop with the superficiality I did before. How much stronger is Rembrandt’s painting than merely the label, A Side of Beef.

In literature, there is a parallel. Good prose as an art form has something bad prose does not. Further, poetry has something good prose does not. We may have long discussions on what is added, but the fact that there are distinct differences is clear. Even in the Bible, the poetry adds a dimension not present in the prose. In fact, the effect of any proposition, whether true or false, can be heightened if it is expressed in poetry or in artistic Prose rather than in bald, formulaic statement.
normal definitions, normal syntax

In all forms of writing, both poetry and prose, it makes a tremendous difference whether there is a continuity or a discontinuity with the normal definitions of words in normal syntax. Many modern writers make a concerted effort to disassociate the language of their works from the normal use of language in which there is a normal definition of words and a normal use of syntax. If there is no continuity with the way in which language is normally used, then there is no way for a reader or an audience to know what the author is saying.

An artist can, of course, use language with great richness, fill his writing with figures of speech and hyperbole or play games with the syntax. The great artist often does this, going far beyond a merely rudimentary use of normal grammar and normal definition of words. And in doing so, he adds depth and dimension.

Shakespeare is the great example. We understand Shakespeare’s dramas because he uses enough normal syntax and normal definitions of words so that there is a running story and a continuity between the running story and all of the artistic devices he uses. We know what Shakespeare is saying not because of the far-flung metaphors and beautiful verbal twists, but because of the continuity they have with the story on the level of normal definition and normal syntax. There is a firm core of straightforward propositions. What is true in literature is also true in painting and sculpture. The common symbolic vocabulary that belongs to all men (the artists and the viewers) is the world around us — namely, God’s world. That symbolic vocabulary in the representational arts stands parallel to normal grammar and normal syntax in the literary arts. When, therefore, there is no attempt on the part of an artist to use this symbolic vocabulary at all, then communication breaks down. There is then no way for anyone to know what the artist is saying. My point is not that making this sort of art is immoral or anti-Christian, but rather that a dimension is lost.

Totally abstract art stands in an undefined relationship with the viewer, for the viewer is completely alienated from the painter. There is a huge wall between them. The painter and the viewer stand separated from each other in total alienation, a greater alienation than Giacometti could ever show in his alienated figures.

When Giacometti pictures the awful alienation of man, he makes figures which are alienated, but he is still living in God’s world and is still using the common symbolic forms, no matter how he distorts them. He plays with the vocabulary, but the vocabulary is still there. So there is a communication between Giacometti and me, a titanic communication. I can understand what he is saying and I cry.

In contrast to this, there is a distinct limitation to totally abstract art. Like prose or poetry which has no contact with normal syntax and the normal definitions of words, it is a quarry out of which the observer or the hearer has a personal emotional response.

art and the sacred

The fact that something is a work of art does not make it sacred. Martin Heidegger in What Is Philosophy? came finally to the view that there are small beings (namely, people) who verbalize, and therefore we can hope that Being has some meaning. His great cry at the end of this book is to listen to the poet. Heidegger is not saying that we should listen to the content of what the poets say, because one can find two different poets who give absolutely opposite content and this doesn’t matter. Rather, the poet as a poet became Heidegger’s upper-story optimistic hope.

As Christians, we must see that just because an artist —even a great artist —portrays a world-view in writing or on canvas, it does not mean that we should automatically accept that worldview. Art may heighten the impact of the world-view —in fact, we can count on this — but it does not make something true. The truth of a world-view presented by an artist must be judged on grounds other than artistic greatness.

four standards of judgment

What kind of judgment does one apply, then, to a work of art? I believe that there are four basic standards:

(1) technical excellence; (2) validity; (3) intellectual content, the world-view which comes through; and (4) the integration of content and vehicle.

I will discuss technical excellence in relationship to painting because it is easy to point out through this medium what I mean. Here one considers the use of color, form, the texture of the paint, the handling of lines, the balance, composition and unity of the painting, and so forth. In each of these, there can be varying degrees of technical excellence. By recognizing technical excellence as an aspect of an art work, we are often able to say that while we do not agree with such and such an artist’s world-view, he is nonetheless a great artist.

We are not being true to the artist as a man if we consider his art work junk simply because we differ with his outlook on life. Christian schools, Christian parents, and Christian pastors often have turned off young people at just this point. Because the schools, the pastors and the parents did not make a distinction between technical excellence and content, the whole of much great art has been rejected with scorn or ridicule. Instead, if the artist’s technical excellence is high, he is to be praised for this, even if we differ with his world-view. Man must be treated fairly as man. Creative ability and technical excellence are therefore important criteria. Validity is the second criterion. By validity I mean whether an artist is honest to himself and to his world-view, or whether he makes his art only for money or for the sake of being accepted. If an artist makes an art work solely for a patron — whether that patron is the ancient noble, or the modern art gallery to which the artist wants access, or the modern art critics of the moment — his work does not have validity. The modern forms of ²the patronÓ are more destructive than even that of the old noble.

To bring it down to earth, let’s see what happens in the art form of preaching. There is many a pastor who does not have validity. Some preach for material gain and others in order to be accepted by their congregation. It is so easy to play to the audience, to adjust what one says or the way one says it to produce the kind of effect which will be most beneficial to the preacher himself. And when one sees the issue in relationship to the gospel, the force of the dishonesty is especially obvious. We can think of the contemporary dramatists whose future is in the hands of the critics of the passing moment. In drama, art, music and cinema, we have a set of New York and London critics who can make or break the artist. How easy it is to play to the critic and not to take one’s art as a serious expression of what the artist himself wants to say and do.
The third criterion for the judgment of a work of art is its content, that which reflects the world-view of the artist. As far as a Christian is concerned, the world-view that is shown through a body of art must be seen ultimately in terms of the Scripture. The artist’s world-view is not to be free from the judgment of the Word of God. In this the artist is like a scientist. The scientist may wear a white coat and be considered an “authority” by society, but where his statements impinge upon what God has given us in Scripture, they come under the ultimate authority of His Word. An artist may wear a painterØs smock and be considered almost a holy man; yet where his work shows his world-view, the content must be judged by its relationship to the Christian world-view.

I think we can now see how it is possible to make such judgments concerning the work of art. If we stand as Christians before a man’s canvas and say that he is a great artist in technical excellence and validity — if in fact he is — if we have been fair with him as a man and as an artist, then we can say that his world-view is wrong. We can judge his view on the same basis as we judge the views of anybody else — philosopher, common man, laborer, businessman or whatever.
Let’s be more specific. The notion of Bohemian freedom which Jean-Jacques Rousseau promulgated and which has been so prevalent in modern society has no place in Christian thinking. Rousseau was seeking a kind of autonomous freedom, and from him stemmed a group of “supermen” whose lives were lived above reason, as it were, and above the norms of society. For a long time this Bohemian life was taken to be the ideal for the artist, and it has come in the last few decades to be considered an ideal for more than the artist. From a Christian point of view, however, this sort of life is not allowed. God’s Word binds the great man and the small, the scientist and the simple, the king and the artist.

Some artists may not know that they are consciously showing forth a world-view. Nonetheless, a world-view usually does show through from the body of their work. Even those works which were constructed under the principle of art for art’s sake often imply a world-view — even the world-view that there is no meaning is a message. In any case, whether the artist is conscious of the world-view or not, to the extent that it is there it must come under the judgment of the Word of God

There is a corollary to this third criterion. We should realize that if something untrue or immoral is stated in great art, it can be far more destructive and devastating than if it is expressed in poor art or prosaic statement. Much of the crude art, the common product of counterculture communities and the underground press, is laden with destructive messages, but the art is so poor that it does not have much force. But the greater the artistic expression, the more important it is to consciously bring it and its world-view under the judgment of Christ and the Bible. The common reaction among many, however, is just the opposite. Many seem to feel that the greater the art, the less we ought to be critical of its world-view. This we must reverse.

An example of the devastating effect of great art with nonChristian content occurs in Zen. In Zen, the world is nothing, man is nothing, everything is nothing; but Zen poetry says it beautifully, so much more beautifully than the counterculture press. Swearing in four-letter words, the counterculture press often declares that man is nothing, the world is nothing, nothing is nothing. And one thinks to himself, “Ah, but if it were said with some beauty, maybe there would be something.” And then Zen comes along as a high art form and gives this message with beauty. And now you’re dead twice. There is a second corollary related to judging the content of an art work. It is possible for a non-Christian writer or painter to write and paint according to a Christian world-view even though he himself is not a Christian. To understand this, we must distinguish between two meanings of the word Christian. The first and essential meaning is that a Christian is a person who has accepted Christ as his Savior and has thus passed from death to life, from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God, by being born again. But if a number of people really are Christians, then they bring forth a kind of consensus that exists apart from themselves and sometimes non-Christians paint and write within the framework of that consensus even though they as individuals are not Christians.

There are, therefore, four kinds of people in the realm of art. The first is the born-again man who writes or paints within the Christian total world-view. The second is the non-Christian who expresses his own non-Christian world-view. The third is the man who is personally a non-Christian, but nevertheless writes or paints on the basis of the Christian consensus by which he has been influenced. For example, in another area, if one were to ask whether Benjamin Franklin or Thomas Jefferson personally were Christians, the answer, as best we can judge from what they have said, is no. Nonetheless, they produced something that had some sort of Christian framework because they were producing it out of the Christian consensus of Samuel Rutherford’s Lex Rex. Thus, from a Christian framework Jefferson and Franklin were able to write that men have certain inalienable rights, a notion derived from a specifically Christian world-view. The fourth person is the born-again Christian who does not understand what the total Christian world-view should be and therefore produces art which embodies a non-Christian worldview. In other words, just as it is possible for a non-Christian to be inconsistent and to paint God’s world in spite of his personal philosophy, it is possible for a Christian to be inconsistent and embody in his paintings a non-Christian world-view. And it is this latter which is perhaps the most sad.

The fourth criterion for judging a work of art involves how well the artist has suited the vehicle to the message. For those art works which are truly great, there is a correlation between the style and the content. The greatest art fits the vehicle that is being used to the world-view that is being presented.

A clear example is found in T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. When Eliot published this in 1922, he became a hero to the modern poets, because for the first time he dared to make the form of his poetry fit the nature of the world as he saw it — namely, broken, unrelated, ruptured. What was that form? A collection of shattered fragments of language and images, and allusions drawn seemingly haphazardly from all manner of literature, philosophy and religious writings from the ancients to the present. But modern poets were pleased, for they now had a poetic form to fit the modern world-view of unrelatedness.

The breakthrough in painting came in Picasso’s Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907), a painting which takes its name from a house of prostitution in Barcelona. Picasso began this work in the vein of other paintings of the period; but as one critic describes it, Picasso ended it as “a semi-abstract composition in which the forms of the nudes and their accessories are broken up into planes compressed into a shallow space.” More specifically, Picasso began on the left by painting the forms rather naturally, toward the middle he painted more like Spanish primitives, and finally on the right, as he finished his work, he painted the women as only abstract forms and symbols or masks, and thus succeeded in making monsters of his human subjects. Picasso knew what he was doing, and for a moment the world stood still. It was in fact so strong an expression that for a long time even his friends would not accept it. They didn’t even want to look at it. Thus, in his painting of the women Picasso pictured the fractured nature of modern man. What T. S. Eliot did in his poetry, Picasso had already done in painting. Both men deserve high scores for suiting the vehicle to the message.

No art should be judged on the basis of this criterion alone, however. We should ultimately see all art works in the light of their technique, validity, world-view, and suiting of form to content.



Francis Schaeffer has written extensively on art and culture spanning the last 2000 years and here are some posts I have done on this subject before : Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 10 “Final Choices” episode 9 “The Age of Personal Peace and Affluence”episode 8 “The Age of Fragmentation”episode 7 “The Age of Non-Reason” episode 6 “The Scientific Age” episode 5 “The Revolutionary Age” ,  episode 4 “The Reformation” episode 3 “The Renaissance”episode 2 “The Middle Ages,”, and  episode 1 “The Roman Age,” . My favorite episodes are number 7 and 8 since they deal with modern art and culture primarily.(Joe Carter rightly noted, “Schaeffer—who always claimed to be an evangelist and not a philosopher—was often criticized for the way his work oversimplified intellectual history and philosophy.” To those critics I say take a chill pill because Schaeffer was introducing millions into the fields of art and culture!!!! !!! More people need to read his works and blog about them because they show how people’s worldviews affect their lives!!!!)

There is evidence that points to the fact that the Bible is historically true as Schaeffer pointed out in episode 5 of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE  HUMAN RACE? There is a basis then for faith in Christ alone for our eternal hope. This link shows how to do that.


Francis Schaeffer: How Should We Then Live? (Full-Length Documentary)


Francis Schaeffer with his son Franky pictured below. Francis and Edith (who passed away in 2013) opened L’ Abri in 1955 in Switzerland.

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