Giacometti 7: New Work, Commentaries, Epilogue

Homage to Giacometti  Part 7
New Work, Commentaries & Epilogue
Photographs Inspired by or Related to the Paintings,  
Drawings & Sculptures of Alberto Giacometti

1.  Introduction : "Portraits" Heads Faces
2.  Line-Drawing Photograph Portraits
3.  Figures & Triadic Visual Poems 
4.  Landscapes, Still Lifes, Place and Presence
5.  Regarding Giacometti's Fear of Death  
6.  Vision, Re-vision and "Recurrence of Creation"
7.  New Work, Commentaries, Epilogue

In this concluding part of my Homage to Giacometti project I am presenting twelve photographs, all of which were made over the past six months as I was working on the project.  Though several other images were made in this time frame, some of which were used in the different parts of the project, I am presenting here only those images never before published in my blog--with one exception: the Puddle image, #7, which was published in Part 5: Regarding Giacometti's Fear of Death The photographs are followed by written commentaries, and I have concluded this last part of the project--and the project as a whole--with an Epilogue.

I have made many Homage projects over the past forty years.  Visit this link: The Homage Photography Projects to see an updated complete listing of my online Homage projects.  Each project has served an important role in my unfolding creative process.  I have come to understand that when I carefully study the work and life of an artist that interests me I discover a great deal about myself.  I believe we perceive as meaningful only those things which are already inside us, thus honoring another artist, one who has won my heartfelt respect and affection, is simultaneously a form of honoring my own Self. 

Here, now, are the twelve photographs which I believe were made under the influence of my Homage to Giacometti.

Giacometti Inspired


1.  Man In White Shirt Walking Into A Shadow  Homage to Giacometti 7,  New Work

2.  Man, Hat Shadow, White Hand, Running Blood Forms    Homage to Giacometti 7,  New Work

3.  Symmetrical Photograph  Homage to Giacometti 7,  New Work
(Source Photograph for Symmetrical Construction:
 Image #10 from Part 1, Portrait, Heads, Faces) 

4.  Symmetrical Photograph: "The Eye"  (Leaf Shadows)      Homage to Giacometti 7,  New Work

5.  Symmetrical Photograph  Homage to Giacometti 7,  New Work
(Source Photograph for Symmetrical Construction: Surface of a Stone) 

6.  Tears for Giacometti  (Rain drops on window screen after a storm)    Homage to Giacometti 7,  New Work

7.  Tears for Giacometti  (Rain puddle after a storm)    Homage to Giacometti 7,  New Work

8.  Tears for Giacometti  (Rain drops on the Deck screen after a storm)    Homage to Giacometti 7,  New Work

9.  A Tone Poem for Giacometti  (House Plants near Fogged window after a storm)    Homage to Giacometti 7,  New Work

10.  Walking Man on the picture window  #1 of 3  (with rain drops after a storm)    Homage to Giacometti 7,  New Work

11.  Walking Man on the picture window  #2 of 3  (dark blue rain clouds over the meadow)    Homage to Giacometti 7,  New Work

12.  Walking Man on the picture window  #3 of 3  (Climbing Into the soft brightening light)    Homage to Giacometti 7,  New Work



More than half of the twelve images I've chosen to present here are pervaded by a rather dark, brooding atmosphere.  The faces in both portrait images (#1 and #2) are hidden in shadow; and it seems to me two of the three symmetrical photographs in this collection provide "faces" for the shadow covered portraits:  Image #5 (immediately below), with its animal-like face which emerges from within an ancient stone, has a rather aggressive presence;  Image #4 has at its center a single eye which contains a very consciousIconic  presence.  The eye appears to be looking directly at me.  Interestingly, the source photograph I used for the construction of the symmetrical "eye" photograph was an image of leaf shadows projected upon a wall.  Both of these symmetrical images are very much alive for me; they pulsate with animated, living energy.  (click on all images to enlarge them)   

5.  Symmetrical Photograph  Homage to Giacometti 7,  New Work
(Source Photograph for Symmetrical Construction: Surface of a Stone) 

4.  Symmetrical Photograph: "The Eye"  (Leaf Shadows)   

The #3 symmetrical image (immediately below) was constructed from a portrait image (see further below) which was published in Part I of my Giacometti project, Portraits, Heads, Faces.   The portrait image appears (to me) to be a screaming head half of which is in shadow, the half bursting with streams of light.  Its transformation into symmetrical form has amplified and elongated the two mirroring shadow shapes which look like the wings of an enormous black bird.  Sparks of light (or fire) are flying out from the dark center-point of the image.  The two dark shapes also remind me of the sawtooth blades of a torture devise I once saw in a museum dedicated to the horrors of the Crusades.

3.  Symmetrical Photograph  Homage to Giacometti 7,  New Work
(Source Photograph for Symmetrical Construction:
 Image #10 from Part 1, Portrait, Heads, Faces)    

Image #10   Homage to Giacometti "Portraits " Heads Faces    
(Screaming Head with Streaks of Light)

The War
The association to the Crusades comes as no surprise to me, for I have recently watched the ten part PBS documentary series The Vietnam War by Ken Burns and Lynn Knovic.  There were many horrifying images in the documentary, some of which reminded me of what Giacometti witnessed as he, his brother Diego, and Diego's girlfriend were leaving Paris together on bicycles on June 13, 1940 as the Germans were invading his beloved city.  I believe the traumatic things Giacometti witnessed and experienced that day (and in the four successive days that followed) changed his life and his work.  James Lord wrote extensively about the experience of June 13 in his Biography.  I will provide here one brief excerpt, and later I will site a longer passage:  

A human arm, severed at the shoulder, lay in the road. . .  Farther on, they [Giacometti, his brother and his brother's girl friend] came to a large shallow crater where a bomb had recently fallen; around it lay several bodies, torn limbs, and the severed head of a bearded man.  The street was running with blood.  People were screaming.      

The Hand, Giacometti  Bronze 1947

2.  Man, Hat Shadow, White Hand, Running Blood Forms

Giacometti made some sculptures after the war that could be related to his war experiences.  See (above) The Hand, made in 1947.  The white hand in my portrait of a man (image #2 above) resembles the hand in Giacometti's sculpture.  It seems to be reaching up into the shadow that covers the face.  A dark flowing form spilling out of the left edge of the photograph merges with the shadow covering the face; it then continues down behind the man's shoulder.  ~  A similar form enters higher up from the picture's left edge and flows behind the hat, across to the right right corner of the image, and then "runs" downward parallel to the form below it.  James Lord's statement The street was running with blood echoes within and throughout the entire image for me.  And it resonates in the image below.

7.  Tears for Giacometti  (Rain puddle after a storm)     

I associate Rain Puddle After A Storm (image #7 above) with the luminous form of a human body, a body perhaps still alive, but whose light (life . . . blood) seems to be bleeding out of the form into the surrounding darkness.  Perhaps it is the Earth itself which is bleeding, for it has witnessed countless wars, wounds and killings.  Perhaps the "bleeding forms" behind the man with the white hand are a symbolic expression of his physical or emotional pain.  We all hold within us emotional wounds, unsayable remembrances of things seen, felt, imagined.  Though hidden away in some dark recess of our psyche, these sufferings often find a way of leaking out into images that speak to us of grieving and sadness despite our efforts to remain deaf and blind to them. 

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Countless numbers of soldiers and wartime civilians have suffered from emotional and psychological pain, a suffering which goes on and on and on within the victim with little understanding and thus little hope of resolution.  The Vietnam War, which began in 1945 and ended in 1975, was one huge traumatic battle scar for anyone involved with it.  In 1980, five years after the war "ended," an official medical title was at last given to one of the most horrendous emotional costs of the war: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.    

Twenty years after the Vietnam War ended, in 1995, an official estimate of the War's deaths was made.  As many as two million civilians on both sides died along with some 1.1 million Vietnamese and Viet Cong Fighters.  ~  Between 200,000 and 250,00 South Vietnamese soldiers died in the war, along with 58, 220 U.S. soldiers.  ~  And for many of the surviving soldiers--and civilians--horrific mental anguish haunted them every day for the rest of their lives.  They experienced a living hell during the War, and many of them continued . . .  even to this day . . .  to suffer a living hell within themselves because of their traumatic war experiences.  To make things even worse for American soldiers, when they at last were able to come home they were confronted with criticism by anti-war protesters for their participation in the war.  It was like rubbing salt into an open wound, adding to their already unbearable emotional and psychological sufferings from the War.

A recent study showed that as of 2015, over 270,000 U.S veterans of the Vietnam War may still be suffering with full Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Our soldiers, of course, should not have been blamed for being part of the Vietnam War fiasco for indeed they were victims.  All Americans, and most especially the soldiers, were victims of political and military betrayal, misrepresentation, corporate corruption, greed and a never ending flood of lies upon lies upon lies.  Fortunately, the anti-war protestors who spoke in the documentary film by Ken Burns and Lynn Knovic were able to express their deep, heartfelt regret for having added to the emotional pain of the soldiers who were already suffering from PTSD when they returned to the States. 


The Tears In Things
Of the twelve photographs in this collection, Images # 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 share in both their imagery and their titles a psychic tone of sadness and melancholy.  I believe this is in part because I feel a sadness for Giacometti, though I'm not exactly sure why.  I also think its possible my sadness relates to my reaction to the Vietnam War and some of my experiences related to it, which had been reawakened recently because of The Vietnam War documentary I watched.  My feelings about that dispicable War may have bled over-into how I see my photographs in relation to Giacometti's life and work.  

Though Giacometti loved making his drawings, paintings and sculptures, and seemed content with his humble life in his extremely rustic, small Parisian studio--apparently not needing public recognition to keep him continually engaged with his work--still, there seems (to me) to have been something missing in his life, a discontent related perhaps to his fear of death which may have been escalated by the horrific war scenes he witnessed outside of Paris during the German occupation.  Despite his epiphanic visions, which provided Giacometti with frequent glimpses into what he called "the Truth" of reality, according to James Lord Giacometti was always preoccupied with death.  It may be too simple to say that Giacometti's fear of death explains the many terrifying images he made in the last years of his creative life, but there could be some truth in the idea. 

Many poets and writers have written about their feeling that deep in the heart of the natural world there is a presence relating to grief, or melancholy or longing.  Lucretius wrote about "the tears in things." And this feeling may dwell in the human heart as well.  We all long for something unknown to us, something that keeps us searching beyond what is available to us in the apparent world.  In the yogic tradition I practice, the sages teach that this longing is directly related to a desire to know and re-unite with God, to return to the source or origin of our existence.  

Below is a set of three images related to each other through their feeling-tone of "grief" or "longing."  These "tear" images are offered in remembrance and respect for Giacometti, the searching man and Giacometti, the searching artist. 

6.  Tears for Giacometti  (Rain drops on window screen after a storm)    

8.  Tears for Giacometti  (Rain drops on the Deck screen after a storm)   

10.  Walking Man on the picture window  #1 of a series of 3 
 (with rain drops after a storm; Tears for Giacometti)

Three Brushes With Death
After completing Part 5: Regarding Giacometti's Fear of Death, and then watching the Vietnam War documentary, I realized that I had avoided including in my own recent contemplations on death two important but very difficult times in my life when I had experienced a close "brush" with death: the first was my repeated encounters with the US military and its attempts to draft me into the Vietnam War between 1968 and 1969.  The second had to do with my wife's battle with cancer in 2003-2007.  I will write briefly about each of them below, and I have included a third important near-death experience which came sequentially between the other two.  Though I have written about it several times before in my blog, it is so intimately related to the other two I felt it had to be once again noted here.

Just before I graduated from the Institute of Design in Chicago, in 1968, I received my first military draft notice.  I was terrified by the idea of killing anyone, especially in the Vietnam War which I believed was a big mistake despite feeling I knew far too little about it.  What I had heard about the war via underground news sources caused me serious distress, distrust and many questions.  There simply did not appear to be any real justification for the US involvement in what eventually was revealed to be a tragic, horrific war.  

Though the Vietnam War documentary was quite difficult for me to watch, it was surprisingly liberating for me to finally learn some real facts about a war that had been so obviously flawed and so cloaked in lies.  Back in the late 1960's I had come to the decision that I must stay out of the war in any way possible, and The Vietnam War documentary affirmed that conviction for me.   At last now I could see and feel and understand, via the images and heartfelt personal stories and unveiled facts in the documentary, that the war was indeed a crazy, irrational, and completely unjustified war.  Our young soldiers had been sent into unimaginably terrifying battle situations based only on the military's need for "body count numbers" that would provide some semblance of justification for all the lies our leaders were telling us--the American people in general, and our soldiers. 

The Vietnam War was a war of betrayal, a war of greed and corruption and lying, a war that was allowed to continue only to save a few governmental and military officials from humiliation.  The risk of loosing so many young lives was deemed less important to politicians than putting at risk their own opportunities for re-election.  

The Pentagon Papers: An Un-winnable War of Betrayal
By 1965 our Highest Ranked Political and Military Officials knew for certain that the war was not winnable and yet they continued the war for ten more years, all the time lying and betraying the trust of the American people and putting our young men and women in battle at tremendous risk of physical harm, death, and unspeakable emotional trauma.  A written memo from the Defense Department under the Johnson Administration was eventually uncovered that listed the primary, self-serving reasons for American persistence in the war: 

          70%  to avoid a humiliating U. S. defeat
          20%  to keep South Vietnam and the adjacent territory from Chinese hands
          10%  to permit the people of South Vietnam to enjoy a better, freer way of life
          . . .    to emerge from the crisis without unacceptable taint from methods used.   

My appeals to avoid the War were not unjustified.  I had been seriously injured during the summer of 1968 while working on the loading docks at UPS.  I fell through a gap between a truck and the loading dock.  UPS would not take responsibility for their negligence, and since I needed money to stay in school I continued working on the dock despite the pain in my knee that made it impossible for me to sleep at night throughout the remainder of that summer.

I believed the knee injury should have medically justified my attempts to appeal the military's persistent efforts to draft me.  After an exhaustive search I was finally able to find a doctor in Chicago who examined me and agreed to write a letter in support of my appeals to the military.  (One doctor I went to aggressively attacked me verbally for trying to "avoid my duty to my country."  He had served in World War II and was not about to help anyone like me.  The problem here, of course, is that the Vietnam War and the World War II were quintessentially different.  There was indeed honor in fighting the Second World War; on the other hand, those who fought in the Vietnam War were disgraced by anti-war protestors upon their return home.)  

I ended up having to go through three stressful, demeaning military physical exams (two in Chicago and one in New York City) between 1968-69.  I had reached the point of seriously considering becoming a Conscientious Objector, or moving to Canada to avoid the war, but neither was in any way appealing to me.  I was seeing Gloria as much as possible while we both were in New York City in the latter part of 1968 and early 1969.  We were becoming very close; I was imagining living my life with her.  Going into a war I didn't agree with was not an acceptable option.  Though at the time I had not fully crystalized my future goals I was certain that Vietnam was out of the question.

Photographs 1968-69 
Below are some photographs I took in 1968-69 in Chicago and New York City.  Some of the images were included in a book of photographs I made for my senior thesis project at the Institute of Design in ChicagoIn general, the images are about anxiety and stress, about feeling alone, confused, fearful and ungrounded, about how the young were being indoctrinated to war, and about wanting to distance myself from the military.  

Young Soldier 1968  

Young Soldiers 1968  Chicago

Soldiers and Bystander  1968  Chicago

Walking Men  1968  Chicago

 Entangled in String   1969   New York City

My Shadow on a Waling Man   1969   New York City




On a cold winter night in 1969 before my third military physical exam, Gloria and I went to hear the New York Philharmonic perform Beethoven's last Symphony, the ninth "Choral Symphony," with free tickets someone had given us.  I was so anxious that that my right thumb twitched nervously, completely out of control, throughout the entire concert. 

Fortunately, the letter written by the Chicago doctor on my behalf worked well for me in New York City.  I finally received the medical 4F classification.  At last I felt free to move on with my life.

I had applied for a MFA graduate fellowship in Photography at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, and in the spring of 1969 I received notice that I was awarded the fellowship.  I would be expected to teach Intro to Photo courses each semester to earn my tuition and a living stipend.  

I wanted to ask Gloria to come to New Mexico with me, but was uncertain about doing that.  She was in school in Brooklyn and I was afraid that she would not be willing to leave her studies to be with me in New Mexico.  I then had a dream in which a blind 'wise old man' who worked in a circus told me I would be a fool if I didn't ask Gloria to marry me.  

So I asked Gloria to come to New Mexico with me.  She agreed, but, because of her family situation, we decided it would be best if we got married so we could live together with her parents' blessings.  I proposed to Gloria and she accepted.  

Several weeks before our wedding date, which had been set for early August, 1969, Gloria was hit by a car in Brooklyn near her apartment.  She had gone to the corner grocery, and when she did not return, I went out looking for her.  I arrived at a scene crowded with people, police, sirens and flashing lights.  I learned from a policeman that Gloria had been hit by a car and taken to a hospital; perhaps she was still alive.  But when I saw a chalk drawing on the street--an outline of her body--and inside the drawing, a puddle of blood . . . I became overwhelmed with the feeling that I had lost her. 

7.  Tears for Giacometti  (Rain puddle after a storm) 

Though Gloria had been severely hurt by the hit-and-run incident, she survived and we were able to get married as planned and then move to New Mexico.  ~  In 1972, Gloria got pregnant with our son Shaun, and he was born just weeks before I graduated with my MFA degree and received an offer to teach photography at Georgia State University, Atlanta.  ~  Three years later, after our daughter Jessica was born, I accepted another teaching offer to create a new Photography Program in the Art Department at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  I taught there from 1975 through 2007, when I retired.

In 2003 Gloria and I discovered she had a very aggressive form of cancer; statistically, her life was at a very high degree of risk.  After immediate surgery and an intense type of chemo therapy, there remained statistically a strong chance that her particular type of cancer would return.  Thus the years from late 2003 through mid 2007 were for Gloria a time of severe physical suffering from the surgeries and drugs, and we both were very anxious about the possible recurrence of the cancer.  I was once again overwhelmed by a feeling that I might lose Gloria.  

Also, those years (2004-07) were for me a time of bureaucratic and interpersonal struggle within the Art Department at UW-Milwaukee where I was teaching.  What transpired at the university in those years, in combination with the stress of not knowing what Gloria's situation might mean for us in the near future, motivated my decision to retire (in June, 2007) a few years earlier than I had originally planned.  In the late fall of 2007 Gloria and I traveled to Italy to fulfill a shared dream we had been putting off for far too many years.  

Gloria handled the entire, horrifying ordeal of her cancer and her treatments with great courage and resolve; she found alternative ways of helping herself survive the high percentage possibility of recurrence.  The initial goal was for her to reach the five year mark after chemo; she is now entering into her fourteenth year of being cancer free. 

I have been thinking about the synchronicity in play as I watched the Vietnam War documentary while at the same time I was working on the Giacometti Homage project, particularly the fifth chapter that dealt with Giacometti's fear of death.  The coincidence of the two events in time provided me with the opportunity to experience and reevaluate many old feelings I had kept hidden away in myself for so many years.  It now seems even more likely that my choice of the twelve photographs presented in this concluding part of the project reflects the emotional struggles I have been revisiting.  Fortunately, the process of looking back has allowed me to see not only the fearful moments of the past.   I can now more clearly recognize, with great gratitude, that there had always been an abundance of grace in my life.  And, now that I have become a practicing student of Siddha Yoga Meditation I am learning to see the presence of grace in my life more continuously in each present moment.  The yogic sages say that every moment of this life is overflowing with and embraced by grace.  My photography, my blog, and each of its projects has--in a way--become an ongoing contemplation and acknowledgement of the grace in my life.

Images can be powerful in their ability to invoke personal associations, and yet, at the same time, some images are capable of serving other, more transcendent functions as well.  Most of the twelve images I have presented here are not only emotionally charged for me; at the same time they provide me with an opportunity to get in touch with another transpersonal world, a "Reality" of meaning which is unveiled by the symbolic function of the image.  I believe this "Reality" is what Giacometti was referring to when he used the term Truth.  Symbols unite corresponding interior and exterior Imaginal realities; symbols are the Imaginal manifestation of Unitary Reality; symbols are radiantly alive with grace--the creative energy of the universe.  This transcendent power of a symbol is capable of opening a window onto a Reality hidden behind the surface appearances of what we think of as "reality."   And the symbol's grace can transform the contemplator of the image . . .  if he or she fully absorbs the symbol and allows its grace to fully absorb the contemplator.

9.  A Tone Poem for Giacometti  (House Plants near Fogged window after a storm)

The haunting, darkly beautiful photograph above (image #9) functions for me as a symbol.  Its soft moody atmosphere, radiant with a slight touch of internal golden light, is pervaded by a presence of mystery.  It's title, A Tone Poem for Giacometti suggests an offering, a deeply personal gift in gratitude and in remembrance of the man, his life, his art.  

This image has somehow invoked a remembrance of Giacometti working on his miniature sculptures, alone in a cheap hotel room in Switzerland during his war years away from Paris.  The little plaster figurines, two or three inches tall, were about the only thing he worked on during those dark and cold years of exile.  They were the product of an obsessive, ritual-like meditative process in which thought and time became suspended in stillness.

The large plant at the center of the image exists in an ambiguous space: is it emerging from or dissolving into a darkening chasm?  Are they inside or outside the edges of the large sliding door which serves as the picture's frame?  The glass has become fogged by a recent rain storm and the cold front that preceded it.  The moisture on the glass catches the last warm glow of light from the setting sun which has momentarily broken through the clouds low on the horizon.  The mist of light surrounding the plants reminds me of the auras which Giacometti perceived and painted around many of his heads, figures and still life objects.  

In the bottom right corner of the photograph there is a little animated plant with white edged leaves looking up at the larger plants.  Perhaps its miniature figurative presence has contributed to my memories of Giacometti working on his figurines in Switzerland.  The little plant appears to be standing, like a small child, in awe of the the larger plants that are becoming a dark, diminutive presence in the fading light.  An atmosphere of the unknown pervades the entire image, as if an other world too ancient and unfathomable to know or understand lies hidden just below the threshold of what is visible.  

Return Home
Giacometti would return to his homeland, Switzerland, in December, 1965 to die.  He preferred to go to the hospital in Chur, Switzerland for his yearly exams and was scheduled to do so when one evening in late November, while waiting for a train, he got caught in a cold rain shower.  He was alone at the train station when he was struck by a deep pain in his chest.  He had to sit down on his suitcase until the seizure ended and others could find him.  After that attack he remained weak and short of breath.  

He seemed to have understood that he was about to die.  James Lord writes in his Biography of those last few days Giacometti lived in Paris before his return to Switzerland.  These would be his last days in Paris and among the last days of his life:   

For weeks he had been trying to write a text for Paris Without End [a book of his lithographic drawings].  He jotted down various notes at various times though none seemed definitive.     

"It is after three in the morning, a little while ago at the Coupole, dinner finished and wanting to read, already I was dropping asleep, dreams deforming and transforming what I tried to read, a line, two lines of the newspaper, and my eyes were closing, the cold outside, the cold and drowsiness chasing me home to go to bed in spite of my terror to sink into sleep . . ."   

"The quiet, I am alone, outside the night, all is motionless and sleep comes over me.  I know neither who I am nor what I'm doing nor what I desire, I know not whether I'm old or young, I have perhaps a few hundred thousand years still to live until my death, my past disappears into a gray chasm . . . "

"Walking Man"
A series of three related images concludes my sequence of twelve photographs.  A passing bird had splattered our picture window with a figurative form reminding me of Giacometti's Walking Man paintings, drawings and sculpturesI made several  photographs of the form over several days time, each in varying light and weather conditions.  In the #10 image the figure is seen against a dark space sparkled with rain drops (tears) which have caught the light from the sky above.  The figure's head appears to have dissolved into the light above the horizon line that divides the picture space between dark and light, above and below, earth and sky.  In the upper part of the image the rain drops have reversed in tonality: they appear as black shapes against the white sky.  

In the miniaturized version of the series presented immediately below I have reversed the order of the first and last images in the series relative to how I first presented them in their larger scale at the beginning of this project, i.e., the #10 image is placed at the bottom of the sequence.     

12.  Walking Man on the picture window  #3 of 3 

11.  Walking Man on the picture window  #2 of 3

10.  Walking Man on the picture window  #1 of 3  

In this reversed presentation form the "Walking Man" figure sequentially rises up and out of the black space, becomes suspended in dark blue storm clouds above the horizon, then rises higher and higher toward the soft light that seems to be growing brighter as the figure nears the top edge of the picture. 

In the middle image (#11) the figure is a chalky white, reminiscent of the plaster sculptures Giacometti made of the famous 1960 Walking Man.  Though the figure has journeyed out of the dark space of the first image, it now seems held motionless, as if suspended in the darkening sky above the horizon line of the woods in the background.  A deep distant rumble of thunder may be just barely perceptible as a storm approaches. 

In the third, top image (#12) the figure has transformed tonally from a chalky white to a soft gray, and it is no longer suspended in space but rather it has begun to actively climb upward, higher and higher above the horizon line--which is in the process of dissolving into the bottom edge of the picture.  The figure seems determined to reach its destination which must be just beyond the soft expanding glow of light that grows in intensity as the figure climbs closer and closer to the picture's upper edge.  Soon, the figure will have accomplished the goal of its journey: the return to its Origin.  


Waking Meditation

Giacometti was always striving to capture the Truth of what he "saw" in his visionary epiphanies which seem to have occurred more frequently after his return to Paris following the War.  Here is another excerpt from James Lord's Biography in which he writes about one of those extraordinary moments of seeing and transcendence that Giacometti experienced as he was fleeing Paris on June 13, 1940 during Germany's invasion.

The sun had come out, though the sky was still half filled with clouds and in the distance occasional rumbles of thunder were audible.  Beneath a nearby tree, French soldiers had set up a machine gun and were firing at the planes.  As Alberto lay there in the ditch, with other refugees crowded around him, he starred up at the sky and suddenly to his great surprise he realized that he was no longer afraid.  It was in part the thrilling beauty of the June day, in part the presence of the other people, which gave him heart.  He thought that if anyone was to be killed he was willing that it should be he instead of one of the others.  Always preoccupied by death, he was not afraid of dying.  

I believe Giacometti entered this mode of seeing whenever he was creating his drawings, paintings and sculptures His vision of the world shifted into something like a meditative state that allowed him to see beyond the outer appearances toward a more fully unveiled Truth, a reality that transcended his personal struggles with a mind which preoccupied him with the fear of death. 

Giacometti made some frightening paintings in the last years of his life.  Perhaps they are a product of his fear, for the ego, the mind, does its best to reject or veil the Truth which seems to the ego too large, too mysterious, too "unknown" and (in Giacometti's own words) too "marvelous" to embrace.  Nonetheless he was happiest (I believe) when he worked, when his mind was silenced by his concentration on the mysteries being presented to him by his epiphanic visions.  When he painted, time unfolded in moments separated by total stillness, moments in which, he said, the world would disappear, appear, disappear, appear . . . in a continuum of still points, moments of transformation.

In the yogic scriptures it is said that Lord Shiva experiences the creation and dissolution of the entire universe with each blink of His eye.  My creative process in photography has been profoundly influenced by my practice of Siddha Yoga Meditation.  The two, seeing photographically and meditation, have become inseparably linked for me, a form of "waking meditation."  

Swami Muktananda, the founder of the Siddha Yoga Path, used the term "waking meditation" in his teachings about seeing the world while remaining in a thought-free (nivirkalpa) meditative state.  When I am truly concentrated on making photographs I enter into a mode of being that is very much like a meditative state.  I believe most artists, certainly Giacometti, have experienced this same meditative state when they truly give themselves over to their work, their creative process.  In this mode of being Grace--the creative power of the universe--is then permitted to take the lead role in the creative process; It directs the artist to the center of their being, the heart, where seeing occurs from within . . . through "the eyes of the heart."  Such a mode of seeing, of being, is totally free, of the purest nature.

When I am making photographs, my seeing becomes as much inward, intuitive, as it is outward.  With grace, the Inner-world image conjoins with is corresponding outer-world counterpart, and in this moment of union a symbolic photograph is spontaneously made manifest.  The true symbol is an image radiantly alive with grace, the grace of Unitary Reality, the grace of the formless divine Self.


Since I began my series of Sacred Art Photography Projects back in 2011-13, I have tended to conclude certain select projects with the words of Swami (Baba) Muktananda, Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, or other yogic saints associated with the Siddha Yoga Path.  Their words are filled with the shakti, the grace, the Truth of their yogic attainment: Union with the Absolute, divine Consciousness.  I consider their words a blessing upon the projects and anyone who reads them.

It has seemed to me that certain projects need this blessing more than others and I am certain that this project, which is pervaded with so many memories and images of fear, is in need of blessings.  Swami Muktananda once said that fear is a symptom of seeing the world as being different from God.  My practice of yoga and my practice of photography now work in unison toward achieving the goal of yoga: seeing God, the divine Self, everywhere and in everything


I am closing this project, then, with the words of Swami Muktananda from two talks he gave in April and May of 1973.  The talks are included in Vol. 4 of Satsang with Baba : Questions and answers with Swami Muktananda (a Siddha Yoga publication).  Baba said:    

It is wrong to consider the world either matter or void or something which is made of stone and clay or minerals.  This you will realize when you have direct experience of the Truth.  The world is nothing but an expansion of what you call God or Chiti or Consciousness.  God Himself has become whatever you see in the world. . . The one Being manifests Himself in all these countless forms and shapes.

Guru Nanak has said, "You should consider within and without, without and within, to be one.  This is the true Guru's knowledge."

In Shrimad Bhagavata two kinds of meditation have been described.  One is meditation on the formless, the other is meditation on form. . .   The entire universe, from our own bodies to all the other animate and inanimate creatures, is a fit object of meditation.  It may appear to be full of diversity, it may appear to be full of different names and forms, but the fact is that it is not diverse, it is not full of names and forms.  It is we who see diversity in it.  It is we who differentiate forms and names. . .   Even while perceiving the outer world, [meditators] should be able to remain in the nivirkalpa state, the state of meditation which is completely free of thought.

The outer world is not different from the inner world.  The outer form is really the inner formless Self which dwells within.  If a meditator can see the world outside as the image of God, he will remain in the same state of meditation [he attained in a meditation cave].   If you can see the two [the inner world and the outer world] as one, you will be in meditation while doing your ordinary work. 

While seeing form around us, we should not lose our nivirkalpa state [the thought free state of meditation] and get caught in form.  This may be called waking meditation.

Whether you understand it or not, the fact is that outer space is one with inner space.  So, therefore it is not difficult for feelings of the heart to permeate the atmosphere. . . 

This project was posted on my Welcome Page
on Halloween, October 31, 2017

Homage to Giacometti

1.  Introduction : "Portraits" Heads Faces
2.  Line-Drawing Photograph Portraits
3.  Figures & Triadic Visual Poems 
4.  Landscapes, Still Lifes, Place and Presence
5.  Regarding Giacometti's Fear of Death  
6.  Vision, Re-vision and "Recurrence of Creation"
7.  New Work, Commentaries, Epilogue

Welcome Page for this website TheDepartingLandscape.blogspot.com which includes the complete listing of my online photography projects, my resume, contact information, and much more.