Meeting Alberto Giacometti (1961)
From: Perfect Timing by Marvin Lazarus
"In 1959, Tristan Tzara gave me a note from him, but he had gone on a trip. This time (1961) he was a prime target. I spoke to Dikos Bazantios, who spoke to him, but his answer was “not now, later” etc. I decided to go ahead anyway and let him throw me out. He darn near did.
I went about 6:00pm to his place. (He works all night - sleeps days). It is on a side street; a ramshackle affair. I went through a door into a courtyard - an alley really. It was narrow, dark and at the end there was a plaster, man sized Giacommetti sculpture rotting away and looking for all like a disintegrating skeleton of a man.
I heard voices on my left and knocked. I was very nervous. A head peered out at me. It had tall hair, eyeglasses, a slab-like face. It did not look like the Giacommetti of the many photographs I’d seen - but rather like George S. Kaufmann the playwright. This above all else threw me off balance.
I stuttered in my weak - and now weaker if not paralyzed French - that I wanted to do some pictures. “No - I’m busy”. I talked some more. “I’m a friend of Byzantios.” His answer was “No - I’m working”. More talk; I sweated. It’s bad enough in English - but in nervous French! At this point he was mumbling profusely and disgustedly.
He was painting when I knocked - I didn’t blame him. But I wanted that picture. Finally I said “One picture - right here.” He looked at my case, light stands, lens case. etc. and said “no.” I figured this might happen so I had put a tiny Retina camera in my pocket loaded with fast film. While he was giving me his final”no” I fished out the camera, laughed and said “Just one.”
I presume he figured this was the easiest way to eliminate me so he stood still indicating approval. I took out a meter (it was a dark alley and who wanted to ruin a single exposure). He indicated annoyance. So I shot. Four shots. And wondered all the way home if there was anything on the film."