Surrealism: Desire unbound: Room 9: Her throat cut

Alberto Giacometti Woman with her Throat Cut 1932, metal sculpture

Alberto Giacometti
Woman with her Throat Cut 1932

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2001

The dark side of surrealist desire is represented in this and the following room in the centre of the exhibition space. Alberto Giacometti’s sculpture Woman with her Throat Cut (1932) is a powerful image of sexual pleasure and violence, despite the abstract nature of the work. The insect-like forms of the ‘woman’ are inspired by the praying mantis, which is said to devour its mate after copulation. One of the arms ends in a cylindrical weight that, according to the artist, was inspired by the nightmare of not being able to lift an arm to push an attacker away.

The theme of violence and domination, mingled with fear of a devouring female, is shared by paintings by Picasso and others in this section. The Brazilian sculptor Maria and French-born Louise Bourgeois explore the theme of psycho-sexual tensions between men and women.