In this essay, I will address the topics relating to the use of lines for Picasso’s “The Girl before a Mirror” and visual depth using three dimensions for Braque’s “Ma Jolie”. The aim here is to gain a judicious understanding on these topics of study, and decipher their implied meaning for both works of art.
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Picasso’s “The Girl before a Mirror” was painted during the 1930’s, modeled after one of Picasso’s mistresses, Marie Therese Walter. In this, Picasso used thick, aggressive passages of paint and blunt along with swelling contours to depict the vanity reflection of a beautiful woman who admires herself in front of a mirror. The painting attempts to capture the contrasting emotions of effervescence and melancholy present in a woman who tries to hold on to her youth and attractiveness even when the symptoms of ageing are clearly evident.
Further, the line dynamics attempt to push and pull the observer to gain a better understanding of the shape and form evident in the drawing. There are plenty of circular arcs depicting facial expressions, the eyes and other visible contours, both in the image of the woman, and the grotesque visuals apparent in the mirror.
In addition, the face is colored in chalky, mauve tones and the oval shape of the eyes get replaced with a maroon circle. There is a crescent shape visible in the cheek which depicts the passage of deformity commonly seen in old age. There are several dark spots on the skin that have been depicted as flusters of red. The overall movement of the lines is in the direction of the mirror, clearly alluding to a forgotten passage of time which strikes at the vanity of attractive women. The painting gives the overall impression of a benighted ghost.
To describe the visual depth in Braque’s “Ma Jolie”, it has to be kept in mind that both Braque and Picasso were simultaneously responsible for the Cubism movement in art. The lines and patterns commonly seen in Picasso’s art can also be seen in Braque’s painting. He tries to give the natural depiction of a beautiful woman playing the guitar.
To add a unique, three-dimensional novelty, Braque cut various cardboard pieces of different sizes, stitched them up and gave an oblique projection feel to the overall drawing. The painting’s three-dimensional quality can also be appreciated in terms of a variety of hand-painted, stencilled letterings which constitute an intrinsic theme comprising birds, wine glasses and women. All of them together constitute an ecstatic celebration of life, conveying a make-believe world which can be pigeon-holed into a café, the all-pervasive theme of Ma Jolie.
Indeed, the use of three-dimensional art was to create a lasting fantasy: that of eternal bliss. To generate those positive and harmonious feelings, Braque tried to introduce an element of illusion, destroying every mechanistic component that would make the art deviate from the actual theme of daydreaming.
Even though the usage of three dimensions is not a novelty in itself, the way visual depth presents itself in the art form of Braque creates a memorable, lasting impression and the appreciation of different spaces. The three dimensions, here, are implied to be a metaphor for the realities of life, as depicted in graphic material. The art is masterly and conveys sheer enigma and a zest for life which is hard to miss in their overall messaging.
Both Picasso’s “The Girl before a Mirror” and Braque’s “Ma Jolie” are masterpieces.