When I were a young lad, I took a course in Art Appreciation, and I have to say it opened up my eyes to art, big time. For the first time I was able to appreciate, truly appreciate, the skill of the old masters — the golden triangle, the use of light and color, how different brushes and brushstrokes worked to create mood, its effect on the history of its time, and all that. My life was changed and enriched, and I look back on the class and its teacher with complete fondness because it opened a door for me, and I walked right on in.
I never got Picasso.
Now granted, I was similarly at a loss when looking at the Blue School, the Modernists (like Klee and Pollock) and what have you; but I always thought that Picasso’s art was wrong: it transformed the human form — and especially that of women — into a caricature, and I’m sorry, but caricature isn’t art, or at least not Fine Art.
And yet Picasso is regarded as one of the Masters by almost everyone. Even his lesser paintings fetch astonishing amounts of money, his life and works are commemorated in terms that border on idolatry, and his style is seen as the end-point, the very denouement of Impressionism; but as hard as I try, I just don’t see it. Here’s one of his most famous works, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon:
…and I know what it is: a depiction of a group of prostitutes in a brothel. And Picasso is looking at them… how? As objects of desire, as depraved women, or as tired working girls? Or is it all three?
Here’s my problem with the piece: it could be any one of those, but his grotesque style makes no statement — it’s left completely up to the audience as to which they see in it.
Now maybe that was his intention, but I have a problem with art that has no artist’s viewpoint, but leaves everything open to interpretation. It’s a cop-out to say, “Well, it’s whatever you want it to be.” My response to that airy nonsense is usually, “I want it to be gone.”
And while I can see why the art world would be immeasurably poorer without the Impressionism of Monet, Gauguin, Renoir, Degas and Van Gogh (to name just some), I just can’t say I feel the same about Picasso.
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