Wednesday, May 23, 2018

#MeToo, Pablo?

"Nude Woman in a Red Armchair" by Pablo Picasso (1932)
Artists often discard models, many of whom have been their lovers. There are artists who either consciously or unconsciously dissolve a relationship, then making the story either intentionally or inadvertently the subject of their art. That was the case with Updike whose collection of storiesToo Far to Go,charted the breakup of his first marriage. Was life sacrificed for the sake of art? The secret of course is buried with the writer or painter. Picasso exhibited a similar pattern of painting his lovers/models and then discarding them. Dominic Green’s “Picasso: difficulties with girls” (The New Criterion, May, 2018), is a refreshing respite from the juggernaut of Picasso hagiography in which classic modernism may one day drown. The occasion for the piece is the “Picasso 1932” exhibit at the Tate. Here are some gems. “The Malagan sex maniac was fifty years old in l932,” “Picasso seems to have had trouble seeing a vagina without its complementary dentata,” “Picasso begins June by sketching Marie-Therese’s face as a sculptural medley of zucchini-like phalluses and testes the size of large potatoes,” “you wonder whether Picasso’s pharaonic phallocentricity will condemn him to the same historical attic as psychoanalysis,” “Undeniably, a continuum of coarseness links Picasso to that other macho oligarch of entertainment, Steve Wynn.” Wynn as you may recall is the Las Vegas casino magnate and art collector who is one of the growing list of casualties of the #MeToo movement—from which Picasso like Trump has remained curiously immune. Green on the other hand has the balls to perform a little turn around and conclude with the following: “Sooner or later, the grandchildren of the people who used to dismiss him as an imposter or lunatic may add him to the list of ‘problematic’ people to expunged from the last shreds of the syllabus. That would be a tragedy for all of us.”

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