Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Unified Theory

Picasso had a blue period between 1901-4 and a Rose period, from l904-6, during which he met his first wife Olivier in the Bateau Lavoire in Montmartre and painted Gertrude Stein. 1906-16 was his cubist period, when he painted Les Demoiselles D’Avignon. The 347 Suite is the last element in the current Picasso show at the Met. These prints, including sugar-lift aquatints, were done in Mougins. Aldo and Piero Crommelynck, who Picasso met during the ‘40s in the atelier of Roger Lacourière, had established a studio near Picasso’s villa Notre-Dame de Vie in l968. It is really useless to talk about Picasso after John Richardson and numerous other scholars have exhumed both his life and work, but may we make at least two statements? He absorbed the history of art almost magically and had a hand that can only be characterized as sleight. He loved to paint and draw naked women, and he was willing to sacrifice them for his art. Further, anyone who has ever gone to a whorehouse will recognize the girls in Les Demoiselles D’Avignon (a painting not included in the current exhibit). There is an almost documentary quality to the abstraction. If there is anything that the Met show illustrates, it is the fact that Picasso had one foot in the 19th century and one foot in the 20th. He fell into the tradition of the great naturalists who triumphed in the art of mimesis, to the extent that his blue, rose and cubist periods were great documents of their times, while revolutionizing the media of painting, drawing and lithography in which he worked. Like Einstein, he was attempting to create a unified theory between micro and macrocosm, between the small and large worlds, between the basics of matter and the universe. The only difference is that Picasso succeeded.

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