- Sheryl Brake
My Disappointing Blind Date with Pablo Picasso
As an artist, I am always interested in learning more about famous artists. And while Picasso's is not a favorite of mine, I still enjoy studying the work and technique of other artists. So, when I saw that the Museum of Art in Fort Collins (Colorado) had an exhibit of a private collection of some of Picasso's prints I decided to go see them.
Born in Malaga, Spain, Pablo Picasso is perhaps one of the 20th century's most-influential and prolific artists. Not only was he a painter, but also a printmaker, sculptor and along with Georges Braque, the creator of Cubism. During his lifetime, it is estimated that he created about 50,000 pieces of artwork, including paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures and ceramics.
While most renowned for his paintings and his Blue Period (1901 to 1904) when his paintings were predominantly painted in monochromatic shades of blue, Picasso made an estimated 2,400 prints throughout his lifetime. He used various methods to produce the prints including etching, lithography,
Like any initial encounter, I like to get to know the someone better. The exhibit was well curated, and each piece had a write up about the piece. I was fascinated by the line work and intricacy of Picasso's work and the progression of his print making. Some pieces had several iterations, referred to as states, and it was interesting to see the development of each piece, each one becoming more advanced and abstract than the last.
His technique and methods were imaginative and very different from the classical art of his predecessors. The initial examples and prints were both beautiful and interesting and exemplified his extraordinary talent.
The Dark Side of Picasso
Like a blind date gone south, my date with Pablo quickly soured with me looking for the museum exit.
What I didn't know about Picasso's prints (some of which have sold in excess of $5.1m) was that many were fueled by what seemed to be his disturbing relationship with women. Throughout his adult life, Picasso had relationships with several women - both wives and mistresses. He was married twice and had multiple mistresses. He is known to have said the following about women.
"For me there are only two kinds of women: goddesses and doormats." - Pablo Picasso
Further into the exhibit, his treatment and feelings towards women were disturbingly depicted in some of his pieces. Even Picasso's granddaughter, Marina Picasso, views her grandfather's treatment of women as a dark side of his creative process.
“He submitted them to his animal sexuality, tamed them, bewitched them, ingested them, and crushed them onto his canvas. After he had spent many nights extracting their essence, once they were bled dry, he would dispose of them.”
Despite Picasso's personal relationships with women, his treatment of them and is work depicting sexism and misogyny, many art patrons chose to disregard his disturbing relationships in the spirit of keeping the "art separate from the artist."
Not so Fond Farewell
I have always considered myself a good judge of character, and if Picasso were alive today and we had a chance to meet in person, I am pretty sure my instincts would have sent off alarm bells in me.
I am not one of those people who can separate the art from the artist. Pablo Picasso may have been a prolific artist, but a gentleman he was not. I wasn't never overly fond of Picasso to begin with and now I have lost all respect for the man and the artist. I was so disappointed in what I had seen and learned about the artist who was Pablo Picasso.
I knew as I left the museum that day that I would never think of Pablo Picasso the same again. I only write about it now because I want others to not just admire the art, but know the artist behind the art. People often judge books by their covers only to be disappointed by the contents. That day, I learned that the same could be said about art.
Personally, I find it hard to respect anyone who treats others the way he did or leaves a path of destruction in their path. I don't believe that art, no matter how remarkable, can make up for one's lack of moral values and character.
We are not perfect human beings, and we all make mistakes but going forward I plan on doing a little more homework before making another blind date with an artist.
What are your thoughts? Can you separate the art from the artist? Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.