In a group of works made between 1930 and 1933, Alberto Giacometti used the Surrealist techniques of shocking juxtaposition and the distortion and displacement of anatomical parts to express the fears and urges of the subconscious. The aggressiveness with which the human figure is treated in these fantasies of brutal erotic assault graphically conveys the content. The female, seen in horror and longing as both victim and victimizer of male sexuality, is often a crustacean or insectlike form. Woman with Her Throat Cut is a particularly vicious image: the body is splayed open, disemboweled, arched in a paroxysm of sex and death. Eros and Thanatos, seen here as a single theme, are distinguished and treated separately in two preparatory sketches.
Body parts are translated into schematic abstract forms like those in Cage of 1930–31, which includes the spoon shape of the female torso, the rib and backbone motif, and the pod shape of the phallus. Here a vegetal form resembling the pelvic bone terminates one arm, and a phalluslike spindle, the only movable part, gruesomely anchors the other; the woman’s backbone pins one leg by fusing with it; her slit carotid immobilizes her head. The memory of violence is frozen in the rigidity of rigor mortis. The psychological torment and the sadistic misogyny projected by this sculpture are in startling contrast to the serenity of other contemporaneous pieces by Giacometti, such as Woman Walking.