Vaccinate against fear of Picasso

We all know Picasso was a genius who was not just practicing, but creating “isms”; who was not teaching, but inspiring artists; and whose single painting could feed half the kids in Africa if US billionaires and Qatari sheikhs who buy and sell the stuff would give their Picasso money to charities.

Then we look at some of his paintings and feel we don’t want to be asking ourselves the basic question of why Picasso is great or inspiring. Because we don’t always know the answer, or suspect we may not like it once we get enlightened.

Shall we be afraid of Picasso’s bizarre works, like this one? Not any more, if you get vaccinated by a healthy dose of cynicism. Roll up your sleeve, you won’t feel the stab.

IMG_0995 - копия (3)

It is, surely, a naked woman. An art historian would readily provide you with her name, her date of birth, and the year of her first intercourse with Picasso. Is it important? Only if you are contemplating a career in time-travel and mental help to sexually overheated geniuses.

Forget art history, trust your instincts.

What, if anything, is great about this painting?

If you take a girl, put her on a blue towel on a public beach in a pose like that, and have her photographed, you’d get banned from the beach, possibly arrested for indecent behaviour, and most likely sued by the girl after the paramedics help her untwine her limbs with massive injections of muscle relaxant.

But if you paint her surrealistically you become a prophet and a genius. Why?

For three main reasons.

1. She is one with the elements

  • Her towel is both a towel and the sea
  • The sky is also the sand and earth.
  • Her body is the green of life but also the colour that you get when mixing yellow and blue which stand for the different elements in this painting
  • The elements penetrate her and she penetrates the elements (just an example):

fragment1

  • Parts of her body resemble some of the major elements:

fragment2_1Why is it important that she’s one with the elements?

Do I really need to explain this? For the same reason Venus was born out of sea foam, and Eve was created from Adam’s rib. For the same reason men avoid meeting their girlfriend’s parents before they get steeped in marriage plans. Love and beauty must be god-given, just like the elements. It is very difficult to really fall in love with the product of someone else’s love-making. Meeting the mother-vagina and father-phallus prematurely is a death blow to a budding relationship.

There is another theory which states that a promiscuous man’s best defense is a claim that he is attracted to women at the primeval, elemental level, like a flower that is attracted to the sun or a fish that finds it difficult to stay away from water. The expected response from the addressee of this tirade is “Darling, you should see a therapist” instead of the more normal “get the f** out of my house, you creepy bastard!” What is really surprising is that it is known to work, if therapists are to be believed, of course.

Given that the words “muse”, “mistress”, and “model” had the same meaning in Picasso’s vocabulary, I’d say he was an adept of this doctrine.

2. She is built of phallic Lego blocks

Look, all the body parts are disconnected. And most of them represent phallic Lego blocks.

IMG_0995 - копия (2)If you don’t see it here, I can’t help you. If no one sees it here, except me, it’s me who can’t be helped. Yet, I am full of hope I am not alone.

If you have friends around you now, feel free to entertain them by the competitive counting of stylised phalluses in this painting. Don’t forget to tell me how many they find.

Why is this phallic symbolism important?

Simple.

Because now you can KEEP CALM AND BUILD YOUR OWN BABY.

Picasso doesn’t give you a porno image to fantasize about. He gives you inspiration to create something that would be your own sexual object, in your own wicked mind, made out of your own naughty fantasies.

3. Now, if you have a phallus, you can insert it anywhere.

It’s not enough to have a girl built. She has to be built in a way that she can be made love to in more ways than a seasoned Kamasutra practitioner can imagine.

Picasso was a first-class maniac, for the number of orifices, pathways, and spots which a phallus owner may explore here is beyond the wildest dreams of a porn-director.

Play your own game with it, but notice that even the towel’s folds are quite suggestive:

IMG_0995 - копия (4)

To sum it up:

It is not a pornographic image to stimulate arousal. It is a DIY set to inspire you to create your own pornographic universe. If you have a working phallus, and are not a member of any religious order that prevents or limits its use, this Picasso is for you.

I am sorry if you are a Catholic priest. I should have posted a warning for you at the top, “This material is of no practical value to celibate readers. Proceed at your own risk”.

If you are a woman, it’s tricky. This Picasso is a lot like a blot drawing that shrinks love shoving in front of their patients. What you see there reflects who you are and whether you should be locked away or allowed to walk free until your next visit. It is a dangerous ground to explore. For instance, if you say you stand against female objectification, and this Picasso resonates with you at some level, it is a sign you are not against female objectification at least a couple of hours a day.

If you are Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner, I’d love to know how you feel about this painting. You can probably experience it from two perspectives, so to say. It must be double fun.

SERIOUS UPDATE

Having received a few very valuable comments to this post, I feel the need to take the proverbial tongue out of my cheek and say that Picasso is not an “easy listening” kind of art. The problem with Picasso is that he is so often referred to as a “genius”, that we expect his art to be understood at once, be instantly gratifying, and immediately pleasing. It doesn’t work this way.

If I peel mockery off this post, this painting would emerge as a very strong statement. It addresses the sexual revolution or evolution of the 20th century in a way few artworks can hope to achieve. Think of the consumer attitude to the female body that permeats the society through pop culture and advertising, disguising itself in the false robes of romantic admiration. “You are like a star, like a breeze for my soul! — Now let’s shag, and be done with this romantic nonsense”. It is all in there, in this painting, explicit and concentrated. It is not a woman in the painting. It is the raw, hungry male consumer attitude to women. Do I need to have the same attitude to admire the painting? No. Can I admire the painting for its ability to express this attitude? Yes.

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31 thoughts on “Vaccinate against fear of Picasso

  1. Pingback: Complicated Viewpoints | Geo Sans

  2. Yumna

    To me the woman looks in serious pain. She actually looks like she’s doing one of those weird yoga exercises that require you to touch your left ear with your right hand from the back and such. Peace through pain, that kind of thing.

    Reply
  3. Geo Sans

    when I observe
    a work
    from picasso
    or any artist
    ~
    I always open
    my perception
    to the artwork first
    and
    foremost
    ~
    I too love picasso’s imagery
    freedom, imagination, interpretation
    shapes, colour
    ~
    within myself
    I have a distorted bias
    against the man
    but
    a deep respect
    for his artistic vision
    ~
    I
    become
    the
    fractured
    cubist
    portrait

    Reply
    1. artmoscow Post author

      Thank you – that’s fair and understandable. Anyone, including Picasso is a 3d, complicated being who can’t be seen in full if looked at from a single point of view )

      Reply
  4. Pingback: Vaccinate against fear of Picasso | SHREELAKSHMI SETHURAMAN

  5. David Bennett

    Picasso and the Peace movement – and Picasso and the understanding that women are badly treated on the world stage – and that the ‘problem’ is very deep seated.

    So the painting is political in the widest sense. Yes, I think I will buy that. But it’s just not very appealing to me as a set of shapes. And it doesn’t make me laugh in recognition – so I guess I don’t like it that much.

    I like some other paintings of his – but I kind of formed the idea after seeing a lot of his paintings that he just gave up and did the easy thing because it was so easy.

    On your feelings about classical music, if you will permit me to bend you ear for three or four minutes, here is Rachmaninoff – Elégie Op. 3. No. 1

    Reply
    1. artmoscow Post author

      Thank you for Rakhmaninov ) I may enjoy a classical piece, but then, 5 mins later, the tune evaporates from my head… Anyway, I think I will keep trying )

      Reply
      1. David Bennett

        I think I can play the Elegie in my head. I might make a mistake or two, or repeat a phrase or miss a section, but I think I have it in my head – and I think that comes from slowing down to each note, which is tough because the mind/brain wants to jump ahead – but I think that dedication to the notes as they are played repays doing.

        This is off the subject of the painting – I am trying to remember an exhibition we went to that had stuff about how and why he drew the dove of peace. And there was a short film of Picasso at a Peace Congress in the UK – it may have been in Sheffield – and I think I recall from the exhibition (who trusts memory?) something along the lines that he saw the treatment of women by men (including by himself) as one of the core problems of society. Do I recall that correctly, if you know more?

        Reply
        1. artmoscow Post author

          I will try the note-by-note trick, thank you. We’ll see how it goes…

          As for Picasso’s dove, it was originally a personal symbol taken by Aragon as a peace conference logo. When Picasso joined the communist party after the war his “official” view of women might have been influenced by the party ideas, but there’s never been a change in his personal, exploitative view.

          Reply
  6. Marie

    Hmmm. I see the rawness of the image but, for me, there is a violent aspect to this and so many other Picasso depictions of women that goes far beyond the male consumer. When I look at this painting, I see a dismembered woman, a woman who’s femininity had been distorted and destroyed. According to one of his biographers, Patrick O’Brian, observed: ‘Picasso’s feeling for women oscillated between extreme tenderness on the one hand and violent hatred on the other, the mid-point being dislike — if not contempt.’ (Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2111329/How-Picasso-called-women-goddesses-doormats-drove-lovers-despair-suicide-cruelty-betrayal.html#ixzz3hv7rWLH6 ) According to the article, two of his many lovers committed suicide and two had mental breakdowns. He was notorious for his affairs and casual liaisons with women. For me, Picasso’s depictions of women scream out in primal anger and totally lack sensuality. I don’t see inspiration and fantasy, and I have to wonder if even the raw, hungry male consumer does.

    Reply
    1. artmoscow Post author

      Hi, Marie – that’s an interesting discussion we are having right now, perhaps, one of the most interesting in the whole history of this blog. Thank you!

      Having read rather a lot about Picasso, I tend to disagree with many of O’Brian’s interpretations that were havily influenced by single-perspective stories he collected from Picasso’s children. He, I am sure, mistook fear and the resulting anger for hatred. The attitudes of Picasso’s kids and grandkids to their anscestor beg for a serious study or at least a therapist, which is not, I must stress, their fault. None of this, though, excludes Picasso’s total dependence on women. Indeed they were either goddesses or doormats for him, but – wait a second – isn’t it the male consumer attitude wrapped in romantism I was writing about? I guess it very much is.

      From my perspective, contempt towards women is a consequence of this consumption attitude, not its cause.

      As for the sensuality of Picasso’s works, that’s difficult to discuss because it needs to be defined first. It is the kind of concept which meaning just seems to be clear, but is very elusive in fact. And it is further aggravated by the problem that sexual sensuality is rarely admitted even if and when it is actually experienced.

      Just one example of sensuality in this work:

      There’s a comment below from a creative person who adores lines and shapes. She is right in many ways (I am yet to answer her comment). For instance the relationship between the “belly-buttocks” part and the legs is amazing in its own right. The harmony and softness of the first form contradicts the rigidity of the seсond in a very sensual way. If you look closely, you will see even tension lines between the buttocks and the leg that make the whole micro scene resemble the start of a space ship off the planet Leg. Given Picasso’s fascination with contrasting beauty and ugliness in his compositions, and his fetish with the body parts presented here, his artistic choices are perfectly explainable, of course, but isn’t resulting the tension between these two body parts full of feeling? And if it is full of feeling, can we say it is devoid of sensuality?

      That’s really tricky. As I said, that’s a blot drawing that pinches the nerve of the society and this is, in my view, a big part of its greatness.

      Reply
      1. Marie

        Wow. Interesting comments. Still looks like a dismembered body to me. The feelings I see are so different from yours interpretation. 🙂 (Are you serious about the space ship of the leg???)

        Reply
        1. artmoscow Post author

          About the space ship. Well, it was just a joke, but there’s certain truth in it. Much of surrealist thinking was influenced by the difficult-to-grasp idea that nothing actually connects to each other at the microscopic levels, and atoms hand up free in nothingness. I wrote about it here: http://wp.me/p2SuQi-lR. There’s just one step from microcosm to outer space, in fact )

          Reply
  7. Suzyqqq

    I am a creative. I admire the work from the standpoint of creativity and see brilliance in form, composition and styles. I see this in many many ways. I know I miss some parts and so when I return to Picasso I find more to observe, to admire, to be in awe from. I know no other way to be with Picasso though this I find in many artists. The ways of creativity are the ways of flow. Once one enters it is an ongoing adventure.

    Reply
    1. artmoscow Post author

      Hi, Suzy, I am sorry it took me so long to come back. It is an exceptionally interesting discussion we are having right now at the bottom of this post.

      Actually, the process you describe is not creative, but analytical. Your mind takes a form or a line, or a composition of several of them and compares it to the forms and lines safely stored in the databanks of your memory, arriving at a conclusion that the relationship you observe is very novel, original, and nothing short of genius. What happens at this moment, emotionally, is similar to the surge that people experience when they recognise a song after a few chords at a concert. In one of the comments above, when answering Marie, I described just one such example of form-relationship that indeed can make one observe it with admiration. I would totally agree that this process is the only one to enjoy, for instance, Paul Klee, but for me Picasso is so much more than just a genius of formalism. He could absorb and then express fundamental societal changes, pains, ills, and joys in ways few philosophers could do at the time.

      PS Love you cutie beauties )

      Reply
  8. swo8

    I see the phalluses too, but I don’t get a heck of lot out of Picasso either. I know he is quite capable of painting in the conventional style, so I acknowledge that he has a lot of talent. I think he was a tremendous promoter. To do the type of work that he did, was outlandish and of course brought him a lot of attention. He was the bubble gum of the moment.
    Leslie

    Reply
    1. artmoscow Post author

      You see, I have a deficiency, a gap in my cultural education. I don’t get classical music. Opera makes me physically sick 30 minutes into a performance. It doesn’t mean though that Mozart, Puccini or Wagner were the bubble gums of their respective moments. No amount of listening has helped so far, but I don’t lose hope to meet someone who will open up these arts to me.

      I will try to get back to Picasso in a less humorous way. Even this painting – regadless of the mockery I was throwing its way – addresses the sexual revolution or evolution of the 20th century in a way few artworks can hope to achieve. Think of the consumer attitude to the female body that permeats the society through pop culture and advertising, disguising itself in the falsehood of romantic poetry. “You are like a star, like a breeze for my soul! Now let’s shag, and be done with this romantic nonsense”. It is all there, explicit and concentrated. It is not a woman in the painting. It is the raw, hungry male consumer attitude. Do I need to have the same attitude to admire the painting? No. Can I admire the painting for its ability to express this attitude? Yes.

      Reply
      1. swo8

        I think I understand your point but I still tend to think that Picasso was out to finance his life style and found this an expedient method to do so. Mozart was out to please the masses too, but I still love him, Picasso not so much.
        Leslie

        Reply
  9. Neda

    Although everyone says that Picasso was a genius, I do not like his works, I never liked them and I will never like. He has ridden all the cultural movements of his time, he has not invented any of them, although it has managed to become the most famous exponent of each of them. His genius was to be able to be payed considerable sums for his works that, at least, I have not any pleasure to watch them.
    Sorry for my bad english and for my frankness.

    Reply
    1. artmoscow Post author

      Hi, don’t be sorry, please! Please read my answer to the comment above, it’s very relevant to some of your thoughts as well, I believe. I’d just add one thing, about Picasso riding the cultural movement of his time. Yes, he often used ideas of others, his predecessors or contemporaries, but in the way that Einstein used mathematics to develop his theories.

      Reply
      1. Neda

        Yes, I agreed. But I don’t like his works, I find they are ugly.
        Good morning Kirill, have a nice day and many thanks for your kindness.

        Reply

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