unconscious aggression: the blind minotaur

“When one has no character, one must have a method.” (Camus )

How can one reconcile such an atrocious human being with art? Unless its an art that glorifies the ugly, the sadistic; an impulse drunk on misogyny that craved sex while first conquering and dominating and then leveling the female gender to doormat status. It can be said that Picasso deconstructed the art historical tradition and left nothing but nihilisitic sympathy and utter chaos in its wake. Most obscurely, he viewed his art as a magical means to nuke the reality that was actually there. Kind of degrading to be a mercenary of the ugly and eternal lost causes.

Was it a vocabulary, a visual language that lost its energy and ability to be convincing? An art that became degraded, like an old hooker through repetition of a basic theme and a story of dissipated desire? An art that fell under the weight of smoke and mirrors.  It was an art that attained a height of frivolty on an intellectual level like an elite inside joke that went nowhere and meant less. The bane of living a long life, yawning through another day of painting as art therapy, like coloring mandalas in a psychiatric ward, a man at the bottom of the tank of original ideas…

---After a phase of stabilizing reorganization, depicted in "The Family of Saltimbanques," Picasso made a daring leap into new artistic territory. The strange bordello scene, so shocking at the time, was much closer to the primitive fantasies behind the mask and façade of culture than the relatively dignified "The Family of Saltimbanques." The aggression that was suppressed and repressed in the static saltimbanque figures emerged in the tense frightening figures of the "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon." Cruelty and sadomasochism are unmasked in the fearful masks and alteration in the artist's vision. Picasso's aggression, especially toward women, so internalized in the blue period and attenuated in the rose period was now overtly expressed in his artistic production. The nightmarish quality of the painting presaged a radical alteration of the artist's vision. Aggression was primarily mobilized in the service of his separation and revolutionary divergence from the traditional forms of Western art. The saltimbanque family would be deconstructed and reconstructed anew in Picasso's personal odyssey and the created world of his art.---Read More:http://www.palgrave-journals.com/ajp/journal/v67/n2/full/3350023a.html

Kuspit:Picasso said that it took him a lifetime to learn to paint like a child; a child sees reality in a distorted way. He remained a malevolent child at heart — the kind who tears wings off butterflies, as many of his pictures of women suggest. They’re often battered beyond recognition, which suggests that he was a sadistic bully. It is also the reason he is a bad painter. Children can’t paint very well. Their art has the freshness of a false innocence, not the dignity of seasoned experience. Picasso’s art in general is over-rated; he appeals to our unconscious aggression, not to our mature perception. He was an arrogant child; Bion argues that arrogance is an expression of the death instinct. Picasso was an innovator, but innovation is not everything in art. The question is what motivates it, what attitude it expresses. The artist’s mentality finally counts for more than his method, however unusual (until it is assimilated as the latest novelty). Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/kuspit/lyonel-feininger-at-the-whitney-7-12-11.aspa

---The oligarchic bourgeoisie looked back at the work of Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Cezanne and Paul Gauguin, who had become the fathers of the modernist revolution, and saw that their society had already produced its own art. The only problem was that those artists had already lost all the science gained over 300 hundred years since the Renaissance. The bourgeoisie did not need the artist as a professional painter since they could use photography for their historical chronicle, portraits and advertisement. However, they saw that art could be good business if it was produced fast. Also, since artists had, since the French Revolution, been committed to the poor, the titans of industry decided to make sure the art they supported had no meaning. ---Read More:http://www.gosurreal.com/dali_vs_picasso.htm

Mathis: Picasso and Michelangelo? Blasphemy! Even Picasso admitted it, in print. Picasso’s genius was the actor’s genius: that was his dominant instinct. And more recent Modern “artists”, though hardly geniuses of the stage as Picasso was, still find their dominant instinct and talent in acting, or less, in posing. …

…He was nice enough to leaven his lump of acting with some real works, at least in the beginning: he was required to, by the standards of the time. But as the 20th century lengthened, he saw (with gentle prodding from Duchamp, et. al.) that the works were superfluous. The audience was focused on the acting—that is what they needed—and the works could just as well go by the boards. The audience wanted colorful personalities, talk-show banter, stories to tell, newspaper copy, love affairs, and so on. Compared to all this, painted pictures were, well, so boring.Read More:http://mileswmathis.com/wagner.htmla

---From that time on, that world would not care any more about living artists doing good work but a about crazy sad stories to be sold to the public. Gauguin and Van Gogh were against painting any illusionist similarities to the three dimensional world. They only wanted to present a higher spiritual vibration with color, which they felt was impossible if the artist became preoccupied with technique. ...Already the critics were pontificating on the great talent of those artists who exalted instinct and permitted the automatic expression of their emotions, not limiting them by the cooling influence of classical technique. The virtue of youth had to be expressed in vital strokes revolting against old age. Action and dynamism should oppose stagnant traditional values, which meant the values of the nobility. Colors were to painting as letters to the alphabet; geometry was to painting what grammar was to literature. No more literary painting! Read More:http://www.gosurreal.c



Real art must be slandered simply to protect the market. They are lost once things begin to have real definitions again, art first of all. If quality is re-introduced, either as beauty or skill or expression or melody or subtlety or elevation or decency, they are lost. They cannot supply the goods in that case.

In declining cultures, wherever the decision comes to rest with the masses, authenticity becomes superfluous, disadvantageous, a liability. Only the actor still arouses great enthusiasm….

---Picasso, who is afraid of everything, went in for the ugly because he was afraid of Bourguereau." (Bourguereau was a famous artist who died in 1905 and whose paintings were considered by modern artists the apex of conventionalism.) Modern art paintings were as ugly as mortal sins and Picasso, Dali proclaimed with his usual irony, "after having knifed Bourguereau half to death, was going to give the puntilla, (the last struck of death in bullfight parlance) and finish modern art at one blow by outuglying, alone, in a single day, the ugly that all others combined turned out in several years." --- Read More:http://www.gosurreal.com/dali_vs_picasso.htm image:http://timeisart.org/?p=90

…That is clear enough from Hollywood as well as MOMA, since we are back to the actor, the poser. But it is also true in realism, where the inauthentic art is more highly valued than the authentic. Kinkaid and Pino are only the most obvious examples, the inauthentic par exellence. Almost the entire rest of the field would be the other examples. Authentic art is looked at with distrust and unease, by gallery and client alike. Where would they hang it? Read More:http://mileswmathis.com/wagner.html

---In the first of Picasso's four etchings of The Blind Minotaur, really himself in the guise of a mythical monster of antiquity done in the early 1930s, was a small sketch of Picasso's earlier work, The Death of Marat, upside down and completely crossed out with an X. It again expressed Picasso's primitive belief in the magic power of his art. The Death of Marat was about the terror of his own death at the hands of a hostile force--whether that was his wife, his mistress or an evil God. By canceling the action on paper, he was canceling it in his life: "'my ... prayer book--the first notes written ... backwards,' he wrote, 'have the magic effect of reversing evil fate ... because 'all incantations (are) allowed.'" And incantations, whether verbal or visual, had the power to change reclity--that was Picasso's magic conviction ...Read More:http://www.creationism.org/csshs/v12n3p27.htm

As each of the male figures in “The Family of Saltimbanques,” going from right to left, is successively taller, they may be viewed as representing the artist at different ages and stages of his own development into adulthood  and into being a mature artist. In reverse order, the figures may represent Picasso’s capacity for controlled, playful regression, a facility related to his creativity. He placed the smallest figure closest to, yet separated from that of the mistress/mother figure. Picasso thus allowed himself, as a child, to be closest to the mother, and most distant from her as an adult. The larger-than-life self-portrait within “The Saltimbanques” is overtly the idealized self. But is the artist also asking “who is the real me,” in a sequential series of progressive and regressive self-representations? The fantasied audience of admiring spectators is the implicit family, to whom Picasso exhibits his artistic creativity. His narcissistic and oedipal triumph, however, is at the expense of psychological closeness and intimacy in his object relations. Sexual and aggressive impulses are inhibited, as the figures are motionless without interaction.

The hand of the artist, although placed behind his back, facing the viewer, is prominently displayed, but its position is a reversal of the forward hand required for the painting of the picture. The hand represents the creative process of the artist with its magical qualities; infantile omnipotence empowers the artist’s imagination. Picasso’s hand, like the immortal, disembodied hand of the prehistoric cave artist, is omnipresent in its creativity while the creator remains a dark mystery. While the prominent hand might symbolize a repressed masturbation fantasy of phallic procreation and impregnation, the hand of a great artist is especially endowed and integrated with perceptual sensitivity and artistic vision. The omnipotence of creativity is unconsciously attributed to the hand, and many artists have done studies of hands, which are a special part of their body ego and identity. The artist magically controls creation and destruction in his hands and eyes. A painting or sculpture can represent a “brain child” to be loved, neglected, or aborted. God has the whole world in his hand, as in the creation (or destruction) in God’s phallic finger in Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel painting. In the prehistoric cave paintings of Peche Merle (France), there are no human figures but the hand of an extraordinary cave artist is represented, perhaps traced, on the wall. The omnipotence to which we refer here is not simply an expression of infantile narcissism but is rather enlisted in the service of artistic creativity and novel composition.Read More:http://www.palgrave-journals.com/ajp/journal/v67/n2/full/3350023a.html

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