What made Picasso unique in the history of art is the degree to which he became what may be described as an orchestrator of the public attitude toward his work, expertly creating sympathetic responses to his various successive styles. These changes in style, as all his followers knew, were so distinct that each was endowed with a name of its own; Blue period, Circus period, Rose period, Bone period, Stained Glass period, monochrome linear period and so on. In a famous remark, yet one that remains symptomatic, Picasso is said to have answered someone’s criticism, “I don’t like Picasso,” with the response, “Which Picasso?”
There have been a few isolated instances of an artist effectively promoting his art to his patrons- such as Titian’s long sales correspondence with King Philip II of Spain, persuading the great Catholic monarch to accept allegories violently modern to him, including even nudes, which however classical and symbolical, were totally unlike anything that a still medieval Spain had ever known or seen.
Yet in Picasso it demanded a man who was as great an impressario as an artist to make his own protean changes in style understood and accepted. Why did he undertake them? It would surely have been far easier for him to continue to do what most artists have done; namely, one having found a style germane to him and increasingly accepted by his audience, to have reatined it, always merely expanding its possibilities without making such abrupt and radical changes as he did.
For instance, there was the break from the eloquently lyrical Blue and Rose periods, which clearly proclaimed their intensely modern derivation from the figures of Greek vases, to the sharp-edged distortions of his Negroid period, born out of the jagged contours of primitive African sculpture.
None of Picasso’s numerous interpreters have offered explanations for such a sudden shift other than its own restless exploratory nature- which to be sure, Picasso seemed to go out of his way to demonstrate time and time again, even if it may have seemed change for the sake of change, repainting the same picture over and over again which variations and new features; theentire template for the mass production scheme that paved the path for the pop art explosion of a Warhol where art money and business became interchangeable, and where money values began to subsume and corrode artistic values. “Style” being a function of market forces. With Picasso there were always other motives present than simply passionate exploration by an artist of one new stylistic dialect after another, in effect, style itself because a form of conceptual art, something akin to the ready-mades and ostensibly profound conceptuality of a Marcel Duchamp, granted that Picasso kept a shaky and tentative grip on some aspects of the figurative.
(see link at end) Donald Kuspit:I will suggest that the irrational exuberance of the contemporary art market is about the breeding of money, not the fertility of art, and that commercially precious works of art have become the organ grinder’s monkeys of money. They exist to increase the generative value and staying power of money — the power of money to breed money, to fertilize itself — not the value and staying power of art.
Money supposedly has no value in itself, that is, it is valuable for what one can exchange it for, but I will suggest the surge of art buying is money’s parthenogenetic way of saying that it is valuable in itself, indeed, value distilled to purity, the quintessence of value in capitalist society.
Many years ago Meyer Schapiro argued that there was a radical difference between art’s spiritual value and its commercial value. He warned against the nihilistic effect of collapsing their difference. I will argue that today, in the public mind, and perhaps in the unconscious of many artists, there is no difference. The commercial value of art has usurped its spiritual value, indeed, seems to determine it. Art’s esthetic, cognitive, emotional and moral value — its value for the dialectical varieties of critical consciousness — has been subsumed by the value of money.
Art has never been independent of money, but now it has become a dependency of money. Consciousness of money is all-pervasive. It informs art — virtually everything in capitalist society — the way Absolute Spirit once did, as Hegel thought. Money has always invested in art, as though admiring, even worshipping, what it respected as its superior — the true treasure of civilization — but today money’s hyper-investment in art, implicitly an attempt to overwhelm it, to force it to surrender its supposedly higher values, strongly suggests that money regards itself as superior to art.
Art’s willingness, even eagerness to be absorbed by money — to estheticize money, as it were — suggests that art, like every other enterprise, from the cultural to the technological (and culture has become an extension and even mode of technological practice in many quarters) is a way of making and worshipping money — a way of affirming capitalism. Indeed, it is a way of signaling the triumph of capitalism over socialism, that is, the unimpeded pursuit of money and profit at the cost of the common human good that might be achieved by the re-distribution of capitalist-generated wealth.Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/kuspit/kuspit3-6-07.asp