Thursday, February 24, 2011

Picasso is my homeboy

He is easily the most famous artist of the 20th Century with a legacy of over 50,000 works. An icon we know intimately and often on a first name basis: PabloPablo Picasso.
Irving Penn's iconic portrait of the painter.

Now, let's play a game... name me a Picasso work. Chances are you'll come up with one of four paintings:
Les Demoiselles D'Avignon, 1907. One of the most iconic images of the past century and arguably the painting that ushered in the Cubist movement as we know it.

 Guernica, 1937. His famous depiction of the bombing of the Spanish town during the Spanish Revolution. Considered an extremely potent anti-war symbol this painting depicts the horrors of conflict and human agony.

Weeping Woman, 1937. Supposed to be a continuation on the theme of suffering as introduced by the previous painting, Guernica. Again reinforcing his Cubist tendencies.

Three musicians, 1921. Represents Synthetic Cubism which is often colorful and introduces 'real world' elements such as newspaper, wallpaper, rope etc.. into the image to often make a collage.

I am not 'art smart', before taking my Art History classes I wouldn't have been able to name many Picasso works, I just knew he was good and that was about it. Then, last summer I went to an exhibition of his work at the Gagosian Gallery in London and it was probably the best I've ever been to. So start with the gallery is a brilliant space, not too small yet still intimate. Then the exhibition itself which, titled: Picasso, The Mediterranean Years (1945-62), was spectacular. It was all works I'd never seen or heard of from his period in the Med. It consisted of small drawings, cartoons, paintings, sculptures, collages, ceramics, exhibition posters and linocuts that gave you a better sense of the artist than only one of his famous paintings could. 

I loved this collection of works because it showed his activity as an artist. While some would take years to make a masterpiece, Picasso was churning art out daily... you could tell he painted for the love of it and I felt that if all you took home from the exhibition was his passion, then you were lucky. The keyword of this exhibition was intimacy, you were getting a very raw and personal look at the man who created such iconic images. There were paintings of his daughter and son, his mistresses and family life, it was a magical place and I really felt suspended in time there.

I wanted to take this chance to showcase some of his lesser known works that I believe deserve as much justice as his famous ones:
Bull, 1945-6 is a series of eleven lithographs (a form of printmaking) where Picasso deconstructs the academic image of a bull - with its line, shape, shading and form - and with each plate he abstracts it until the final image where it is just line. This sequence was so spectacular because it really shows you his skill as an artist and his Cubist roots. I love the middle sequence when  you've got triangles, squares, ovals and many other shapes intertwining to make up the animal.

This is probably my favorite Picasso work ever, Femme au Collier Jaune, (Woman with a yellow necklace). I don't know what it is that really gets me going about this picture but there is something unspoken about the woman that is entrancing and she shares this commonality with Da Vinci's Mona Lisa. There is a strange elegance and mystery to her expression and maybe it's the color scheme with its cool, soothing tones. Regardless, this has definitely been my computer background for the better part of a year.

Another mesmerizing female portrait, whose eyes engage and intrigue.

Another intimate image is of  Francoise, Claude and Paloma, 1951. Don't even ask me why I love this, the children are so darling and it is a rare glimpse of his private life. He wouldn't have been around his children very often, yet their portraits are his most revealing and often the best.

In these two looks from Ruffian's Spring 2010 collection you can definitely see a Picasso-esque print that reminded me of his children.

Paysage à Vallauris, 1952. There is something about this painting that reminds me of  so very much of René Magritte's Empire of Light, 1953/4. I love the pointillistic almost childlike handling of the brush which is so reminiscent of Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night, 1889. 
Magritte and Van Gogh.

Though not a part of the Gagosian exhibition I wanted to include Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, 1932, which is a record breaking work and famous throughout auction houses. The reason? At $106.5 million dollars, it is one of the most expensive pieces of art sold at an auction house ever. Again, I couldn't point out details that make me like it, but as a whole it just really works - really articulate for an art history major, but I'm working on it.

Hope you're inspired to go play online and find your favorite Picasso work. I'm heading to to check up on the latest Fall 2011 shows... as if I haven't had enough winter wear exposure. Ciao

- Life is good

Listening to: 'Rolling in the Deep' - Adele
Observations: I love and miss you grandpa. 
Craving: I can't

1 comment:

  1. WOW! I love when designers can take something old from art or history and create something new and brilliant from it! I love the photos from the ruffian show! Thanks for the inspiration!

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