Picasso’s Tricks

I’m always struck by the fact that the most skilled artists, Picasso and Cézanne for two examples, go out of their way to plan pictures that they could carry off straight out, without much preparation. Whereas the average artist has to make sketches to accomplish anything, the advanced practitioner makes them not because they have to but to get a better result, to build higher. Picasso used to stick paper to his canvas to try out figures, compositions and colors. This technique can be seen in the Clouzot film, which is probably available in any art school, but it is astonishing how little instruction art students get in techniques of preparation. The explanation probably lies in the fact that today the desired end is almost always a concept, therefore can’t really be worked toward—it’s present at the

Pablo Picasso, Portrait of a young woman 1914

start of the work anyway. Picasso’s montage of painted elements, strongly resembling that of Stella, is the technique of an artist who tries to discover something beyond the starting and finishing concept. Illustrated are painted cut-out paper studies for the enigmatic object in the lower left corner.

Pablo Picasso, painted paper studies for Portrait 1914

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