At one of my life drawing classes I talked to the students about Alberto Giacometti and in particular the Giacometti grid approach to drawing. Giacometti was consumed with how things were positioned in space. I’d read somewhere, although I have no idea if it’s true or not, that he was hit by a taxi and from that point on he was obsessed with where things were positioned in space. I guess if you feel your lack of spatial awareness could be the death of you, you too would do whatever necessary to develop it to ensure it didn’t happen again!
Giacometti stated he was attempting to render his models, which tended to be his brother, Diego, his wife, Annette, or his mistress, Caroline (why did all the great 20th century artists have mistresses?), exactly the way he saw them, and the way he thought they ought to be seen. Academics suggest that this was a reflection of a 20th century existentialist view that focussed on the notion that modern life is increasingly devoid of meaning. One must also consider that Giacometti’s work would have been affected not only by the seeming absurdity, chaos, and destructive force of WWII but also the deep seeded belief that all life could very possibly be distinguished through nuclear holocaust. His figures; drawings, paintings and sculptures all convey feelings of alienation in a hostile world very much in line with the mentality of a mid 20th century zeitgeist.
What do you think of Giacometti’s work? It can be quite difficult to get your head around but if you have the chance read James Lord's "A Giacometti Portrait". It's a small book but really helps to establish not only what Giacometti was trying to do but Lord also details exceptionally well the personal struggle Alberto suffered with making each piece. I highly recommend it!