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Picasso is one of the most enigmatic artists of all time, not so much for what he produced but for the quantity and hard work he has churned out of his ripe old age, estimated to be more or less five thousand works of art.
This research paper shall try to present an objective.
This Picasso piece was included in the “Picasso surreal 1924–39” exhibition at Gallery: Fondation Beyeler in December 9, 2005 (Basel, 2007).
- Artist: Pablo Picasso
- Title: “Femme couchée lisant”
- Date: 21, January 1939,
- Courtety: Öl auf Leinwand,
- Size: 96,5 x 130 cm,
- Location: Musée Picasso, Paris,
- Photo: RMN © Jean-Gilles Berizzi, © 2005, ProLitteris, Zürich
When it comes to most Picasso works, a quote associated with Bernard Shaw written in January 1903 is a very apt association. “You cannot prove that your translation is artistically good,” Shaw was quoted saying to his translator Siegfried Trebitsch, “any more than you can prove that Rembrandt was a great painter. Artistic qualities are matters of taste,” (quoted from an editorial, The Burlington Magazine, 1973, p 489).
The editorial went further as associate obscurity and total confusion as it went on to add, “…But with Picasso the situation still remains complex. The name may be familiar; but the style is oftn difficult, and in spite of 9perhaps even because of0 the great fame. Picasso himself has remained an elusive figure. His relatively few comments on art have often been pithy and epigrammatic (like Degas’s) or downright cryptic,” (quoted from an editorial, The Burlington Magazine, 1973, p 489. Another Guardian assessment on Picasso was quoted in 1973 that although it wrote (it was claimed to be of anonymous writer0 “In a real sense, Pablo Picasso was the last Renaissance man […] he had to ultimate destination. It would almost be true to say that he travelled for the sake of the journey and not for the arrival,” (quoted from an editorial, The Burlington Magazine, 1973, p 489).
Many interesting things could be said about Picasso’s works, and fame. One notable comment is about cubism in general: “Cubism is all right as a joke, but it is not all right if it is taken too seriously,” (quoted from an editorial, The Burlington Magazine, 1973, p 490) and another associated with Evelyn Waugh says, “Senor Picasso’s painting cannot be intelligently discussed in the terms used of the civilized masters,” (quoted from an editorial, The Burlington Magazine, 1973, p. 489).
Pablo Ruiz Picasso was born October 25, 1881 and died April 8, 1973 was born Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Clito Ruiz y Picasso by parents José Ruiz y Blasco and María Picasso y López (O’Brian, 1994) in Málaga, Spain. He is often referred to simply as Picasso, a Spanish painter and sculptor and considered as one of the most recognized figures in 20th century art best known as the co-founder along with Georges Braque, of Cubism.
Picasso, at one time has been compared to another Spanish Francisco José de Goya who was considered as the last of the Old Masters and the first of the moderns (Rico, 2007), while Picasso’s is generally described as, “His style changed frequently,” (quoted from an editorial, The Burlington Magazine, 1973, p 490) of which several major periods were linked: Blue Period between 1901 to 1904, Rose Period from 1905-1907, African-influenced Period (1907-1909), Analytic Cubism from 1909-1912, Synthetic Cubism from 1912 to 1919, Classicism and surrealism (Cowling and Mundy, 1990).
According to Basel (2007), “Pablo Picasso was not a Surrealist. He never belonged to the inner circles of those artists who, under the aegis and discipline of their “pope” André Breton, attempted from the mid-1920s onwards to shatter the walls of tradition through the dogma of Surrealist revolution. Still, Picasso did contribute much to this movement that set out to tap the imagery of the unconscious mind, discovered by Sigmund Freud, as a wellspring of art. In fact, Picasso enriched Surrealism by some of its most significant examples, part of the unprecedented flood of paintings he produced from the mid-1920s to the 1930s. Building principally on the stocks of the Musée Picasso in Paris and our own museum’s treasures, the exhibition will be one of the first – for a very long time – to venture on a comprehensive presentation of this phase of Picasso’s oeuvre, a phase that was one of the most personal, powerful and highly creative in the career of this genius of the century.”
“Femme couchée lisant” included in the Basel exhibit, is considered a Surrealism. Surrealism is a cultural movement more popular with visual artworks that began in the mid-1920s. Coined in 1917 by Guillaume Apollinaire in the program notes describing the ballet “Parade” which was a collaborative work by Jean Cocteau, Erik Satie, Pablo Picasso and Léonide Massine, it is characterised by the element of surprise, the unexpected juxtapositions and non sequitur. Leader André Breton asserted that Surrealism was above all a revolutionary movement (Ades, 2001).
It was considered that much of Picasso’s work after 1927 is fantastic and visionary in character. His work “Woman with Flower” (1932) is a portrait of Marie-Thérèse, distorted and deformed in the manner of Surrealism. Already at that time, Surrealism movement was growing in strength and popularity. Picasso was influenced by this group of Parisian artists, although it has been said that they regarded him as their artistic stepfather. “I keep doing my best not to lose sight of nature. I want to aim at similarity, a profound similarity which is more real than reality, thus becoming surrealist,” Picasso was quoted (Art History Archive, 2007).
During this time, Picasso has set up a sculptor’s studio near Paris. Picasso admitted that this was the worst time of his life, began in June 1935. He had an affair with his son’s nurse seventeen-year old Marie-Thérèse who became pregnant with his child. His divorce from Olga was postponed many times as their wealth had become a target for lawyers. Personal financial crisis was in a period where he was supposed to be living in luxury. Picasso would use the bull, dying or snorting furiously and threatening both man and animal alike to his works. As Spanish, Picasso was fascinated by bullfights or “tauromachia”.
“Femme couchée lisant” dated 21, January 1939 is one of his contributions to Surrealism which many until today still find as one of his monstrous products.
Considering the many forms of art or movement that Pablo Picasso has adapted as his own, or as his influences in producing so many works, it can be credited that for many, he is not a great artist but a hard working artist who has gone through a lot of stages and adapted changes in order to reflect what may be popular during a period. He nevertheless has shown his original creativity mostly in his older paintings during or prior to the Blue Rose Period. Later, during the period of Surrealism, Picasso has mastered enough techniques and gained enough influence in his work as well as to his patrons or audience to come out with whatever he may want such as Femme couchée lisant and many more works which many will always contest as something not to take seriously of.
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- Ades, Dawn, and Matthew Gale (2001). “Surrealism”, The Oxford Companion to Western Art. Ed. Hugh Brigstocke. Oxford University Press
- Art History Archive (2007). “The Most Famous Artist of the 20th Century.” Web.
- Basel (2007). “Picasso surreal 1924–39”.
- Burlington Magazine, The (1973). “Fetch Me the Picasso File,” (Dditorial) Vol CXV (845). 489-492.
- Cowling, Elizabeth; Mundy, Jennifer (1990). On Classic Ground: Picasso, Léger, de Chirico and the New Classicism 1910-1930. London: Tate Gallery. ISBN
- O’Brian, Patrick (1994). Picasso: A Biography. New York: W. W. Norton, 14
- Rico, Pablo J. (2007). “Goya.” Web.