Monday, March 23, 2009

Picasso: Challenging the Past

I went over to the National Gallery a couple of weeks ago to see the new Picasso exhibition there. I'd really recommend seeing it, it was so interesting. His painting is so full of expression, even when his works vary to such a huge degree stylistically I feel he could not help but communicate a sense of how he felt about the subject. For instance, portraits of his first wife from the beginning of their marriage and a couple from later in their relationship certainly betray a lot of feeling about her beyond those of her being a muse. One felt even sarcastic. I can't say I've felt that about a painting before.

One of the more obvious questions the exhibition presents is that of originality and authenticity - these are all paintings openly based on other artists' previous work - and what that means. What is inspiration, and what is, frankly, copying? Picasso presents a range of works where he more than successfully demonstrates that a confident personal style and vision is what shows through beyond subject matter. I think spirit matters too. A lot of this work felt like it was produced for the enjoyment of painting and exploring the concept first and foremost. Anything slightly more commercial just would not, by it's nature, communicate this spirit.

Olga au col de fourrure - Picasso 1923
Olga au col de fourrure, Pablo Picasso, 1923.

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