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This article is taken from PN Review 163, Volume 31 Number 5, May - June 2005.

Giacometti and Cartier-Bresson (translated by Anthony Rudolf) Yves Bonnefoy
Translation by Anthony Rudolf of the catalogue text for the exhibition: Une Communauté de Regards: Alberto Giacometti Henri Cartier-Bresson
Paris, Fondation Cartier-Bresson, January-March 2005 / Zurich, Kunsthaus, May-July 2005


I

There is much to fear when it comes to looking. Indeed, it is language that enables us to take our bearings among the things of the world. Language teaches our eyes that a tree is a tree, a stone is a stone, and that this man walking along the street, well, he is a man walking. Such knowledge is useful, without any doubt; it can even be enjoyable. Action is possible as a result, but so is dreaming, on which all kinds of artistic creation depends. Let your eyes lock onto nature, and a landscape is likely to emerge, asserting its beauties, its harmonies. It is not even necessary for those aspects we have retained to possess continuity or coherence. We can content ourselves with selecting among them fragments of sensory perception, scraps of events; this permits unforeseen combi-nations, of interest for their suggestiveness or their disorder; a game which can be pursued without risk of entering into conflict with the claims of ordinary existence.

For such is indeed the danger of looking, beneath the apparent advantage. Given the fatal necessities of language that govern looking, our eyes only perceive the exterior aspect of things, not the mystery of their presence in the very site of our existence. They cannot understand the extent to ...


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