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kottke.org posts about Pablo Picasso

“How Picasso Bled the Women in His Life for Art”

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 10, 2017

Picasso Maya

From Cody Delistraty in the Paris Review, a timely article on Pablo Picasso, his artwork, and how he treated the women in his life (spoiler alert: quite poorly).

Sixteen years ago, Marina Picasso, one of Pablo Picasso’s granddaughters, became the first family member to go public about how much her family had suffered under the artist’s narcissism. “No one in my family ever managed to escape from the stranglehold of this genius,” she wrote in her memoir, Picasso: My Grandfather. “He needed blood to sign each of his paintings: my father’s blood, my brother’s, my mother’s, my grandmother’s, and mine. He needed the blood of those who loved him.”

After Jacqueline Roque, Picasso’s second wife, barred much of the family from the artist’s funeral, the family fell fully to pieces: Pablito, Picasso’s grandson, drank a bottle of bleach and died; Paulo, Picasso’s son, died of deadly alcoholism born of depression. Marie-Therese Walter, Picasso’s young lover between his first wife, Olga Khokhlova, and his next mistress, Dora Maar, later hanged herself; even Roque eventually fatally shot herself.”Women are machines for suffering,” Picasso told Francoise Gilot, his mistress after Maar. After they embarked on their affair when he was sixty-one and she was twenty-one, he warned Gilot of his feelings once more: “For me there are only two kinds of women: goddesses and doormats.”

At the same time, his granddaughter has curated a show in Paris of Picasso’s art celebrating his relationship with his daughter Maya.

Diana Widmaier-Picasso, who is the daughter of Maya Widmaier-Picasso and Pierre Widmaier, a shipping magnate, and the granddaughter of Picasso and Marie-Therese, curated the exhibition. She is well aware of the usual misanthropic, misogynistic characterizations of Picasso. “He’s a man of metamorphoses,” she tells me carefully in Paris, a few days before the vernissage of her exhibition. “A complex person to grasp.”

When I was in Paris recently, I went to the Picasso Museum, where one of the exhibitions showcased his art from 1932, the artist’s “année érotique”. The Guardian described the show thusly:

Achim Borchardt-Hume, the gallery’s director of exhibitions and co-curator of the 2018 show, said the challenge facing curators was: “How can you get close to Picasso as an artist and a person? How can you get beyond the myth?”

Their answer was to focus on one period in Picasso’s long life. They chose 1932, a time called Picasso’s “year of wonders”.

It was a year when he cemented his superstar status as the world’s most influential living artist, producing some of his greatest works of art and staging his first retrospective, which he curated. It was also a year when his passion for Walter almost boiled over.

Picasso was 45 when, in 1927, he spotted the 17-year-old Walter as she exited a Paris Metro station. He approached her, grabbed her arm and declared: “I’m Picasso! You and I are going to do great things together.”

At this point, the quality of the art is undeniable but so too is Picasso’s treatment of women: he beat them, verbally and emotionally abused them, cheated endlessly on his wives, and entered into at least one sexual relationship with a girl under the age of consent (though with the permission of her parents it seems). He chewed women up for his art and then left them to die, literally. A small aspect of all of the allegations that have come out recently (Weinstein, Spacey, Louis CK, Roy Moore, Matthew Weiner, Charlie Sheen, Jeffrey Tambor, Dustin Hoffman, Leon Wieseltier, and — never forget! — fucking Trump) is the collective realization (mostly on the part of men…women have been aware) that not only has massive chunks of our culture been created by specific men who abuse women but also that so-called “Western culture” in its entirety has been marked and in many ways defined by systemic and institutionalized misogyny that has chewed up women for art and discarded them en masse. Never mind your fave is problematic…the whole damn culture is problematic. This aspect of the creation of culture has been largely written out of history, but going forward, it’s going to be important to write it back in.

From age 15 to 90, the evolution of Picasso’s style through 14 self-portraits

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 04, 2017

Picasso self portrait

Picasso self portrait

Pablo Picasso painted his first self-portrait in 1896 (top), when he was 15 years old. Many styles, years, and artistic innovations later, he made one of his last in 1972 at the age of 90 (bottom)…it was called Self-Portrait Facing Death. Open Culture has a look at how Picasso’s portrayal of himself changed over his long and productive life.

The severe youth of 15, further up, brooding, world-weary, and already an accomplished draughtsman and painter; the grimly serious romantic at 18, above — these Picassos give way to the wide-eyed maturity of the artist at 56 in 1938, at 83, 89, and 90, in 1972, the year before his death. That year he produced an intriguing series of eclectic self-portraits unlike anything he had done before.

2001: A Picasso Odyssey

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 09, 2016

Bhautik Joshi took 2001: A Space Odyssey and ran it through a “deep neural networks based style transfer” with the paintings of Pablo Picasso.

See also Blade Runner in the style of van Gogh’s Starry Night and Alice in a Neural Networks Wonderland.

How to understand a Picasso painting

posted by Jason Kottke   May 04, 2016

It’s impossible to tell someone how to interpret paintings by Picasso in only 8 minutes, but Evan Puschak provides a quick and dirty framework for how to begin evaluating the great master’s work by considering your first reaction, the content, form, the historical context, and Picasso’s own personal context.

Bull’s Head by Pablo Picasso

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 13, 2016

Before the holiday break, I took in the Picasso Sculpture show at MoMA. Sculpture typically isn’t my cup of tea art-wise (or Picasso-wise) and much of the exhibition was lost on me, but Bull’s Head stopped me in my tracks.

Picasso, Bull's Head

Picasso once said of the piece:

Guess how I made the bull’s head? One day, in a pile of objects all jumbled up together, I found an old bicycle seat right next to a rusty set of handlebars. In a flash, they joined together in my head. The idea of the Bull’s Head came to me before I had a chance to think. All I did was weld them together… [but] if you were only to see the bull’s head and not the bicycle seat and handlebars that form it, the sculpture would lose some of its impact.

The piece is, at once, just barely over the line of what can be considered art and also so wonderfully artistic. Love it.

Alice in a Neural Networks Wonderland

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 17, 2015

Gene Kogan used some neural network software written by Justin Johnson to transfer the style of paintings by 17 artists to a scene from Disney’s 1951 animated version of Alice in Wonderland. The artists include Sol Lewitt, Picasso, Munch, Georgia O’Keeffe, and van Gogh.

Neural Wonderland

The effect works amazingly well, like if you took Alice in Wonderland and a MoMA catalog and put them in a blender. (via prosthetic knowledge)

How BuzzFeed won #TheDress sweepstakes

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 27, 2015

The internet went crazy yesterday three separate times: when the FCC officially endorsed Net Neutrality, when two llamas escaped, and over the color of this dress.1 A solid three meme day. That scuffling sound you hear is the media scrambling to deliver all sorts of different takes on What It All Means™. The only one I really read, and the only one I’m going to link to, is Paul Ford on why Buzzfeed got 27 million pageviews for #TheDress2 and some other site didn’t.

What I saw, as I looked through the voluminous BuzzFeed coverage of the dress, is an organization at the peak of a craft they’ve been honing since 2006. They are masters of the form they pioneered. If you think that’s bullshit, that’s fine — I think most things are bullshit too. But they didn’t just serendipitously figure out that blue dress. They created an organization that could identify that blue dress, document it, and capture the traffic. And the way they got that 25 million impressions, as far as I can tell from years of listening to their people, reading them, writing about them, and not working or writing for them, was something like: Build a happy-enough workplace where people could screw around and experiment with what works and doesn’t, and pay everyone some money.

This is not said as an endorsement of BuzzFeed. BuzzFeed is utterly deserving of insanely paranoid criticism just like anyone who makes money from your attention, including me. But it’s worth pointing out that their recipe for traffic seems to be: Hire tons of people; let them experiment, figure out how social media works, and repeat endlessly; with lots of snacks. Robots didn’t make this happen. It was a hint of magic, and some science.

I’m reminded of a story about Picasso, possibly apocryphal:

Legend has it that Pablo Picasso was sketching in the park when a bold woman approached him.

“It’s you — Picasso, the great artist! Oh, you must sketch my portrait! I insist.”

So Picasso agreed to sketch her. After studying her for a moment, he used a single pencil stroke to create her portrait. He handed the women his work of art.

“It’s perfect!” she gushed. “You managed to capture my essence with one stroke, in one moment. Thank you! How much do I owe you?”

“Five thousand dollars,” the artist replied.

“B-b-but, what?” the woman sputtered. “How could you want so much money for this picture? It only took you a second to draw it!”

To which Picasso responded, “Madame, it took me my entire life.”

Similarly, designer Paula Scher took only a few seconds to come up with the new logo for Citibank for which Pentagram likely charged big money for:

How can it be that you talk to someone and it’s done in a second? But it is done in a second. it’s done in a second and in 34 years, and every experience and every movie and every thing of my life that’s in my head.

Ford is exactly right about BuzzFeed; they put in the work for years so that a post that took probably 3 minutes to write captured more traffic in one day than some media outlets get in an entire month. (thx, @DigDoug & @jayfallon)

Update: A post from BuzzFeed’s publisher, Dao Nguyen, explains how the company’s tech team reacted to the unexpected traffic.

We have a bunch of things going for us at this point. We have heavily invested in infrastructure provisioning and scaling. We know exactly how to scale fast from running drills.

  1. Weirdly, I saw the dress as gold and a light blue. What a fucking cliche I am, needing to see even this dress as a different set of colors than anyone else.

  2. I don’t think I’m betraying any confidences here in saying that BuzzFeed had to spin up a few extra servers to handle the intense burst of traffic from that post…everyone does it. That’s right, dedicated #TheDress servers. Move over, Bieber.

Rembrandt stolen from LA hotel

posted by Aaron Cohen   Aug 16, 2011

On Saturday night, an 11-by-6-inch Rembrandt pen-and-ink drawing called “The Judgement”, worth $250K, was stolen from the Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey. Interestingly, Rembrandt pieces are the second most stolen pieces of art.

Art experts reached Sunday said works by Rembrandt are among the most popular targets for art thieves, second only to those by Picasso, because of the artist’s name recognition and their value. Anthony Amore, chief investigator at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and co-author of the book “Stealing Rembrandts,” said there have been 81 documented thefts of the artist’s work in the last 100 years.

It’s like I always say: When I edit Kottke, art gets stolen.

Update:
That was fast. The drawing has been recovered. Thanks, Patrick.

Modern art swimsuit issue

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 22, 2011

Jealous of all the attention garnered by Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit issue, Tyler Green of Modern Art Notes decided to compile his own swimsuit publication. Here’s a sample from a Mr. P. Picasso:

Picasso Bathers

Paris art heist

posted by Aaron Cohen   May 20, 2010

A masked bandit broke into the Paris Museum of Modern Art last night and stole 5 paintings. Included in the grab were a Picasso and a Matisse.

Here is the list of paintings and what they look like:
”Le pigeon aux petits-pois” (The Pigeon with the Peas) by Pablo Picasso
”La Pastorale” (Pastoral) by Henri Matisse
‘L’olivier pres de l’Estaque” (Olive Tree near Estaque) by Georges Braque
‘La femme a l’eventail” (Woman with a Fan) by Amedeo Modigliani
”Nature-mort aux chandeliers” (Still Life with Chandeliers) by Fernand Leger

(via @jkottke)

An appreciation of Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon 100

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 11, 2007

An appreciation of Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon 100 years after it was painted. “It’s not just 100 years in the life of a painting, but 100 years of modernism. Les Demoiselles d’Avignon is the rift, the break that divides past and future. Culturally, the 20th century began in 1907.”

Time-lapse video of Picasso making a painting,

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 04, 2007

Time-lapse video of Picasso making a painting, from start to finish. Tinselman has more info on the video.

Let’s say, like Steve Wynn, you’ve punched

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 23, 2006

Let’s say, like Steve Wynn, you’ve punched a hole in your Picasso. Here’s how to fix it.

Thoughtful review of the Picasso and American

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 17, 2006

Thoughtful review of the Picasso and American Art show currently on at the Whitney.

Billionaire casino owner and art collector Steve

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 16, 2006

Billionaire casino owner and art collector Steve Wynn accidentally put his elbow through a $140 million Picasso while gesturing in talking about the painting.

Update: Nora Ephron was present at the accidental violation of Ms. Marie-Therese Walter by Wynn and tells her story on Huffington Post. (via zach)