Monday, October 6, 2014

Towards the End: Picasso

In January 2011, I wrote an "In the Beginning" post (here) featuring Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), who the general public still seems to regard as the genius master of Modern Art.

Recently, I've added a complementary series, "Towards the End," dealing with an artist's late, rather than early work. So now seems to be as good a time as any to add the remaining bookend to Picasso's career.

Considering that he died aged 91, it's a little unfair to select a start-point ten or even 15 years before his death. So what I did was rummage through images of paintings made after 1950, when he was nearly 70. Below are some examples from what I found.


Dora Maar au chat - 1941
I include this painting Picasso made when he was about 60 to serve as a benchmark for the later ones. "Dora Maar with Cat" sold at auction for one of the highest prices ever.

Villa in Vallauris - 1951

Goat's Skull, Bottle and Candle - 1952

The Studio - 1955

Woman in Turkish Costume Sitting in a Chair - 1955

Les pigeons, Cannes - 1957

The Rape of the Sabine Women - c. 1963

Le peintre et son modele - 1963

Grandes têtes - 1969

Tête d'homme - 1972

True to his form, Picasso never went purely abstract; each painting includes a subject or subjects potentially identifiable via the captions.

To my eye, there was no real stylistic progression or sense of direction over the 20 years covered by the example images above. This ties into the thesis of my e-book "Art Adrift" that once the elements of modernist painting had been established by around 1920, aspiring modernists and even established ones such as Picasso had no real sense of what to do next.

No comments: