When Alberto Giacometti was commissioned to create a monument to the executed French Resistance hero Gabriel Péri, it marked a transformative moment in the Swiss sculptor’s career which resulted in one of his first ‘walking men’
On a grey December day in 1941, the journalist Gabriel Péri, a leading figure in the French Resistance, was taken from a disused chapel at Fort Mont-Valérien outside Paris along with some 70 other hostages and shot dead by the German occupying forces.
The shock that greeted the news in France was profound. The author Albert Camus (1913-1960) wrote, ‘I recall the day when the waves of revolt within me reached their climax. It was a morning in Lyon, and I had just read in the newspaper of the execution of Gabriel Péri.’
It was an outrage that prompted the novelist to renounce his pacifism and join the French Resistance. He later used the subject of Péri’s death in the allegorical work The Stranger.