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Pablo Picasso’s Art Modernism Essay (Critical Writing)


Modernism can be broadly defined as comprising of modern wider thoughts, practices and modern characters. It is a description of the modernist movement set up by tendencies in culture and movements within the culture it originated from resulting in changes which are far reaching especially in the European and western society in the late 19th and early 20th century. Modernism was a revolution against the conservative nature of realism which was the highest paradigmatic motive reason for the rejection of the traditional ways and their reprise.

This led to the incorporation of revision, rewriting, recapitulating and parody in new forms. It generally rejected the belief and the certainty in enlightenment thinking with a consequent rejection in the belief of the existence of a powerful and most compassionate creator-God. Modernity encompasses the thoughts of those who believed in the daily activities of traditional literature i.e. they believed that literature, architecture ,forms of art, social organization and daily life were growing outdated and out of favor in the new socio economic and political society that was fully industrialized and had experienced an advancement in technology.

Pablo Picasso Les Demoiselles d Avignon 1907

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon meaning the Young Ladies of Avignon and which was originally titled the brothels of Avignon is a large oil painting done in 1907 by a Spanish painter called Pablo Picasso. This artistic work portrays five nude prostitutes on a carrier in a brothel in the city of Barcelona.

Each of the figures has a portrayal of a confrontational state and none of them portrays feminine characters as they show figures which are disjointed and menacing. Two have faces with African characters and the other three seem of Iberian origin as the case with Pablo Picasso. In this work, Picasso makes a radical change from the traditional way of painting in the European environment. He adopts abandonment of perspective and uses primitivism in favor of a flat and plane two dimensional formats.

The creation of this work led to an artistic scandal because from the appearance of the drawing, one could see it as a group of naked women involved in some kind of gathering or assembly. The name of the work represents a street in Barcelona called d’Avignon which was famous and notorious for brothels. In this work, Picasso distorts the human form ridding it of the soul, concern and emotion but he portrays what happens in these brothels which make human lose their integrity, personality and privacy behaving as if completely naked and used by the society without any form of care.

This work has rugged, jagged and sharp edges portraying the women as rough. Their skins are of African and Iberian origin and seem uncared for in the ways women especially prostitutes care for their bodies. The color of the surrounding and the women seem so unnatural and unappealing indicating the aggressiveness of the characters.

Through the use of character distortion, this work of Picasso began the artistic revolution. Both the characters and the paintings composition give feelings of discomfort to the viewers. Since this work has no audience or by-stander in the composition, Picasso allows the viewer to perform the duty of the client in the brothel; a position that will actually lead to disturbance of the client down to his core.

How the prostitutes glare is accusatory and stoic leading to piercing of the viewer’s moral fiber forcing the viewer to endure their glares. He embraced and encouraged discomfort and hesitation which related hand in hand in the Les demoiselles d’Avignon. Mentioning of sexual encounters was a taboo and this leads to the artist folding the canvas and hiding it from the public glare, by tackling this sensitive area in visual art the work became so revolutionary that it remains relevant today, though hundreds of years later.

Picasso tried to move from realist literature and introduced technological and advanced concepts such as disjointed timeline in the early eras of modernism. During this time duration, post-world war, one the metanarratives were becoming irrelevant due to the increasing rise of discontent, rise of trade unionism and the birth of psychoanalysis. This led to the birth of a unifying factor due to the growth in politics and the rise of democracy.

La Grande Jatte is holding an exquisite balance of innovation and tradition, a sense of transition and momentary, solemnity and wit. In this work, we arrive at appreciation of unforgettable imagination. Piere Augustine Renoir painted high quality and leading crafts however, he developed a style called impressionalist. He celebrates beauty with specialty to feminine sensuality. Seurat’s work is pointillism in that he uses a large number of characters in a single work giving each individual some task like the painting of a Sunday outing on the island. Renoir has a desire to capture a single event like individuals leading to dwelling on beauty and the feminine sensuality.


Picasso uses contemporary modes of drawing which depicts the traditional ways but passes across the information to the society, his rough and jagged edged paintings pass the message of the recklessness of the society towards the prostitutes and the rugged background is a sign of the uncaring nature of the society to the environment of prostitutes. Both the work of art and the creativity of Seurat and Renoir are appealing and highly creative. The paintings of Renoir are not merely pretty and superficial but he has introduced intellectuality as compensation. Seurat uses color and technique i.e. employing the use of dots; from his works it is clear that he never followed common theories. He equally controlled surface painting and used aerial perspective.

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"Pablo Picasso's Art Modernism." IvyPanda, 12 July 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/pablo-picassos-art-modernism/.

1. IvyPanda. "Pablo Picasso's Art Modernism." July 12, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/pablo-picassos-art-modernism/.


IvyPanda. "Pablo Picasso's Art Modernism." July 12, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/pablo-picassos-art-modernism/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Pablo Picasso's Art Modernism." July 12, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/pablo-picassos-art-modernism/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Pablo Picasso's Art Modernism'. 12 July.

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