In 1956 Giacometti was chosen to represent France at the Venice Biennale. He immediately began working at his small studio by shaping the clay around a frame made of just one rod, in order to form a woman’s filamentous figure. The ten plaster sculptures to be produced were called Women of Venice, as a tribute to the place intended for the exhibition. Two years later, Giacometti decided to cast nine of them in bronze, producing six copies each. Thus, the Women of Venice, all formed from a single piece of clay, neither completely identical nor completely unlike to each other, are variants of the same female figure.
In fact, they have many things in common: the filamentous silhouette, the position of the hands along the body, the head, proportionally smaller than the rest of the anatomy, the large and joined legs, making them bending forward. The hieratic appearance, the excessive length of the body, the lack of expression on the faces elevate them at the level of idols, inevitably reminiscent of Cycladic art and, to a lesser extent, Egyptian art. Here, we stand before a feminine ideal with the most absolute, most enigmatic and most impersonal significance as well. Of course, Giacometti was not trying to create a new model of beauty, but rather to conceive the woman based on his imagination, depending on whether he was looking for a mistress, a girlfriend, a mother or just a human being.
Their differences are visible regarding the height of the silhouette, the opening of the hands compared to the rest of the body, the shape of the face and hair, the size of the breasts and the curvature of the abdomen, as well as the thickness of the base supporting them. All these differentiations individualize each figure and make her no longer an image or a symbol, but a real, human woman with her own special characteristics.
The Woman of Venice V is one of the most realistic creations of the set. Smaller in comparison to the others, it stands out with its voluptuous curves: the waist is clearly distinguished, the breasts, hips and buttocks are emphasized, her gender shows off.
The head is smaller and narrower than the others, but with much more intense detail, as is the case with the ponytail formed at the base of the neck. The treatment of the plaster with a knife, faithfully given to the bronze version, looks smoother than in other versions, as if Giacometti wanted to show her less emaciated, with a body less damaged than that of her sisters’. But no matter how, following careful consideration, she seems fleshier, even maternal to us, she does not cease to bear the same wounds as the other Women of Venice and therefore in all Giacometti’s sculpture.