modern forms to human pain

His drawings, the line drawings appear so simple. Deceptively so. But at the same time, if one tries to copy them it becomes apparent they are so powerful; surprising that single unbroken lines can create so much. The sheer energy, whether its the vitality or the anger plunges us beyond formal appearances and into the realm where formal innovation was a consequence of deeper issues. Issues, sums of destructions, that you cannot really interpret coherently that would result in making rational sense.

---One of the most important canvases of the twentieth century, Picasso’s great breakthrough painting Les Demoiselles d’Avignon was constructed in response to several significant sources. First amongst these was his confrontation with Cézanne’s great achievement at the posthumous retrospective mounted in Paris a year after the artist’s death in 1907. The retrospective exhibition forced the young Picasso, Matisse and many other artists to contend with the implications of Cézanne’s art. Matisse's Bonheur de Vivre of 1906 was one of the first of many attempts to do so, and the newly completed work was quickly purchased by Leo & Gertrude Stein and hung in their living room so that all of their circle of avant-garde writers and artists could see and praise it. And praise it they did.---Read More:

The fact that Picasso can draw like no other artist since Leonardo, that is his saving grace and the thing he will be remembered for. Not the fact that he invented Cubism and other gadgets.–Jack Levine, in Rodman’s Conversations with Artists….

…I don’t think there’s such a thing for me as pure painting, if pure painting is all it’s about. It’s not enough. Otherwise we’d have housewives all over Long Island, dripping paint on the kitchen floors. To make an avant garde kitchen floor.
Jack Levine–2005 Read More:

Picasso encapsulated the modern, Walter Benjamin’s Age of Mechanical Reproduction, where what is seemingly real is more often an illusion created by desire, or an idealization of desire. But there is no way of getting around this, whether Picasso pitched to the scrap heap the whole concept of tasteful art or not. Or whether his nihilism was based on the expression of painful feelings or not, it remains ultimately that he gave modern form to human pain and not human pain to modern form.

Picasso. Girl Before A Mirror. 1932. Image:

As jack Levine refers to, a basic ability to draw is a necessity to be an artist. That quality seems to be embedded into the fibers of the visual arts and painting in particular. To Levine, Picasso’s incredible drawing ability derives from that capacity to arrive at new ways to tell old ideas through assembling fragments of a shattered and partially disintegrated locus of ideas. The kind of anarchic , imbued with the mad and fatalistic, building of figures never adds up to anything approaching figural wholes in harmony with themselves and there had to be a technical mastery to pull this off.

( see link at end) : Distancing himself from life by staging it, as though he was a spectator watching a sporting event, Picasso attempted to master what he could never completely master. Cubism is an attempt to control uncontrollable reality even while acknowledging that it is traumatically out of control — disjointed and dissonant, like Les Demoiselles — and thus a source of anxiety. It is no accident that Picasso, who thought of his art as autobiography — pages of a diary, as he said — was drawn to Cézanne’s expression of anxiety, no doubt because anxiety, as Freud said, signals danger to the self. Read More:

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