Sample Art Paper on Pablo Picasso
Among the artists in the “A World of Art” textbook, one with significant and outstanding contributions to the world of art is Pablo Picasso (Sayre 4). Pablo Ruiz y Picasso, commonly known as Pablo Picasso was born on 25 October 1881 in Malaga, Spain and died on 8 April 1973 at the age of 91 in Mougins, France, where he spent most of his adult life. Understandably, Pablo Picasso is regarded as one of the greatest and most influential artists who ever lived during the 20th century and this is attributed to his contributions and foundations of the Cubist movement that reshaped the world of art (McNeese and Pablo 3). He was known for a wide range of activities including painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, stage design, ceramics, and writing. Pablo’s most notable works were known as “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” of 1907 and “The Weeping Woman” of 1937, and these two are explored and analyzed extensively in this paper.
“Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” interpreted as “The Young Ladies of Avignon” and originally titled as “The Brothel of Avignon” was created by Picasso in 1907 being a large oil painting on canvas with a subject matter of prostitution and immorality depicted by the nude women. The painting was exhibited in public in 1916 where it was criticized and was thought to be immoral. In the piece of artwork, five nude female prostitutes from a brothel on Carrer d’Avinyo, a street in Barcelona, are portrayed in a discerning and confrontational manner, and the appearance of the figures is slightly menacing and rendered with disjointed and angular shapes (Picasso 1). On the left are three figures that exhibit facial features, which seemingly, represent the Iberian style of native Spain from where Picasso originates. On the right are other two feminine figures with African mask-like features, which to some extent evoke racial primitivism that influenced Picasso’s liberation of an utterly original artistic style of compelling. It is evident that the manner in which the five figures are drawn is different. At the upper right of the work is a woman who appears to be pulling the curtain and she is rendered with heavy paint. Her composition is primarily of geometric shapes and out of the five figures, her head is the most strictly cubist and it can be seen that the curtain blends partially into her body. On the lower right is a crouching figure, which according to analyses, has undergone revisions that have seen it change from its initial Iberian figure to the African-mask figure. Seemingly, the crouching figure has been drawn from two different perspectives at once, and this has resulted in the creation of a twisted and confusing figure making it rather difficult to determine the direction to which the figure is facing. Above the crouching figure is a woman who appears rather manly and has a square chest and on the left is a woman whose leg is painted in a manner that depicts that it is seen from several points of view simultaneously. The manner in which the leg is painted makes it difficult to distinguish it from the negative space around it and both appear as though they are in the foreground. Moreover, it can be seen that the compressed space inhabited by the five figures projects forward in jagged shards. Another component in the artwork is a pointed slice of melon at the bottom, which appears to be placed on an upturned tabletop.
According to various studies by artists such as Braque on the artwork, it is a representation of the life of women along the Avignon, a street in Barcelona (Picasso and Christopher 3). The latter was famed for its brothel where women would engage in prostitution to earn a living, and this is the exact meaning of Picasso’s work in focus. The strategies applied in this work paved the way for Picasso’s subsequent development of Cubism. Regarding the work’s visual elements, Picasso uses flat and splintered imagery, which goes together with patterns of light and dark, to create a sense of for and space. To create or bring out the splayed figure at the bottom right of the work, Picasso uses a collage of different viewpoints while he depicts the other figures in flattened geometric form with emphasis on minimal three-dimensionality (Sayre 12). Also, the work exhibits sharp and almost shard-like pictorial components, which bring out the intended disturbing sense of violence and sexual power. Clearly, Picasso uses the line component to bring out the shape of the five figures seen in the painting (See Fig 1 in the appendices section).
“The Weeping Woman” is another important artwork created by Pablo Picasso in 1937. It is also an oil painting on canvas executed in the style of analytical Cubism although it depicts greater realism than usual. The subject matter of this work is suffering, and it is depicted by a sobbing female holding a handkerchief up to her face to wipe away her tears. It is a continuation of Picasso’s anti-war theme which was instigated by his work known as “Guernica.” A closer look at the painting reveals the features of a specific person, Dora Maar, who was Picasso’s closest collaborator at the time when he was involved with politics (Caws 6). Picasso described Maar as “always weeping” and this idea is represented in the painting itself. The work has a sharp surface, jagged black lines at the center and at the woman’s mouth and chin, where it appears that the flesh has been peeled away by corrosive tears revealing a hard white bone. There is a handkerchief which seems to be stuffed in the woman’s mouth, and it is like a shard of glass. The woman’s eyes are black apertures, which is a depiction of the great pain the woman is going through.
When interpreted against the civil wars experienced in Spain, the meaning of the work is fairly straight forward. It is a depiction of the harrowing grief and suffering experienced by people especially mothers and sisters following the death of the loved ones, especially during wartime. It is a continuation of the message in “Guernica” whose focus was on the suffering and pain experienced by innocent individuals or civilians during war. Regarding the work’s visual elements, Picasso uses a color scheme that remains something of a mystery. It is evident that he incorporates all the major colors including red, yellow, blue, orange, green, and brown into the artwork. It can also be seen that Picasso uses the component of line to bring out the shape and appearance of the woman. As mentioned earlier, black lines can be seen at the center and the woman’s mouth and chin (See Fig 2 in the appendices section).
All in all, it can be seen that Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” and “The Weeping Woman” are interesting works that can be interpreted and understood easily by various audiences or viewers. Picasso’s works highlight the fact that various experiences or messages in life can be represented in the form of paintings or drawings. However, it is evident that the choice of themes depicted in artworks depends on an artist’s life experiences or beliefs. For instance, the theme in “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” has been determined by Picasso’s experiences in Avignon Street in Barcelona.
Caws, Mary A. Dora Maar: With and Without Picasso : a Biography. London: Thames & Hudson, 2000. Print.
McNeese, Tim, and Pablo Picasso. Pablo Picasso. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 2006. Internet resource.
Picasso, Pablo, and Christopher Green. Picasso’s Les Demoiselles D’avignon. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001. Print.
Picasso, Pablo. “Les demoiselles d’Avignon, 1907.” Museum of Modern Art, New York (2010).
Sayre, Henry M. World of Art: Books a La Carte Edition. Prentice Hall, 2012. Print.
Sayre, Henry M. Writing About Art. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Prentice Hall, 2006. Print.