Giacometti and I - and no doubt a few other Parisians - we know that in Paris there lives a person of great elegance, fine, proud, abrupt, singular and grey - a very tender grey - she is the Rue d'Oberkampf, who, casually, changes her name in her upper reaches, where she is called rue de Menilmontant. Beautiful as a needle, she rises straight to the sky. If you decide to travel along her by car, starting on boulevard Voltaire, you will observe how she opens as you continue upwards, and does so in a curious manner: the houses do not move apart, they grow closer, presenting gables and facades that are simple, extremely banal, and yet which
are quite genuinely transfigured by the personality of the street, and take on a kind of familiar yet distant goodness. Recently, they have set up stupid little dark blue discs crossed by a red line to show
that parking is prohibited. Is she lost? No, she is even more beautiful. Nothing - but nothing] - could make her ugly.
From Alberto Giacometti's Studio by Jean Genet, first published by Editions Barbezat, 1958; translated 1991 by Charles Penwarden.
Paris Post War: Art and Existentialism 1945-55 at the Tate Gallery until 5