The Palace at 4 A.M.

A spare and strange sculpture found in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In a letter to Matisse, the sculptor Alberto Giacometti describes how  The Palace at 4 A.M.  came into being:

Alberto Giacometti (1932)

“This object took shape little by little in the late summer of 1932; it revealed itself to me slowly, the various parts taking their exact form and their precise place within the whole. By autumn it had attained such a reality that its actual execution in space took no more than one day. It is related without any doubt to a period in my life that had come to an end a year before, when for six whole months, hour after hour was passed in the company of a woman, who, concentrating all life in herself, magically transformed my every moment. We used to construct a fantastical palace at night – days and nights had the same color, as if everything happened just before daybreak; throughout the whole time I never saw the sun – a very fragile palace of matchsticks. At the slightest false move a whole section of this tiny construction would collapse. We would always begin it over again. I don’t know why it came to be inhabited by a spinal column in a cage – the spinal column this woman sold me one of the very first nights I met her on the street – and by one of the skeleton birds that she saw the very night before the morning in which our life together collapsed – the skeleton birds that flutter with cries of joy at four o’clock in the morning very high above the pool of clear, green water where the extremely fine, white skeletons of fish float in the great un-roofed hall. In the middle there rises the scaffolding of a tower, perhaps unfinished or, since its top has collapsed, perhaps also broken. On the other side there appeared the statue of a woman, in which I recognize my mother, just as she appears in my earliest memories. The mystery of her long black dress touching the floor troubled me; it seemed to me like a part of her body and aroused in me a feeling of fear and confusion…” (excerpt from a letter from Giacometti to Pierre Matisse)

…the residue of a dream a girl carries over a few minutes into waking life…

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About mollygriffin

I am a student at Bennington College in Vermont.
This entry was posted in The Bookcase, The Wall and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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