Monday, April 5, 2010

Picasso and the Avant-Garde in Paris

If you haven’t visited this exhibit yet, do yourself a favor and get there. Just a wonderful collection of Cubist work — along with some other miscellany: photographs and the like — culled together from traveling pieces, as well as some of the Phila. Museum’s own.

The exhibit kicks off with a self-portrait Picasso made in 1906:

As you walk in, you’re given a personal MP3-player device, through which you can listen to an “audiotour.” The narrators told me, through my headphones, that Picasso had intended this portrait to show him as a man on top of the art world. Having gone through his Blue and Rose periods, Picasso felt that he was capable of anything and everything; so much so that he illustrated himself without paintbrush — a man beyond tools — implying that he was almost superhuman in his artistic abilities.

But take a close look at Picasso’s face here. Does it say “supreme confidence” to you? He looks lost, like a man at some kind of crossroads. Perhaps, an artist who HAD achieved great success, and now didn’t know what to do for an encore ... expectations — from his critics, his patrons, himself — like weights on his chest ... and he, the artist, standing center-stage, without a clue what to do next (the missing paintbrush as metaphor).

Just saying, maybe.

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