The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

October 10, 2016

October 10, 1901

Alberto Giacometti (October 10, 1901 to January 11, 1966), was a Swiss artist. His status in the art world is comparable to T. S. Eliot's in literature.

[T]he two subjects, while profoundly unalike inasmuch as Giacometti was an atheist, a leftist and a bohemian, had many things in common, besides good looks, charisma, chronic mental torment and the hesitant production of a relatively small corpus of work notable for its marvellous marriage of innovation and tradition. Both of them came from cultivated and comfortably-off families rooted for generations in a backwater and both went on to spend their adult lives in a metropolis in a foreign land; both were quick to win fame as artists and quickly became legends, yet almost into middle age could not earn a living from their art and had to work in other areas to survive; both of them married but had no children; both were dominated – people say – by a mother – and haunted – the work says – by the idea of doing a girl in.

Such anyway is the evaluation of David Sylvester in a London Review of Books review of Giacometti: A Biography (James Lord, 1986). We learn in this article, about the Giacometti family:

Nelly became the mistress of Diego Giacometti, the artist’s brother. As they lived together for twenty years and as Lord’s book is almost as much a biography of Diego as it is of Alberto, Nelly appears in several later scenes. But always as a cipher, an irrelevance. No one would guess that she was someone who said:
Pourquoi on appelle les bêtes les bêtes? Elles sont beaucoup plus intelligentes que les êtres humains.

Nelly may have been referring the cat who lived with Diego and her. The Metropolitan Museum of Art website says :

Giacometti remembered that his brother Diego's cat "passed just like a ray of light," squeezing its lithe and predatory form between close objects without ever touching them. This cat is one of only a few sculptures of animals by [Alberto] Giacometti; the others are a dog and two horses.

A distinction we make then, is that while Giacometti liked cats, Eliot loved them.

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