Tag Archives: Pablo Picasso

Size and Importance

Further on from the previous post—if Stella was part of a larger, more general response to abstract expressionism, I think the generally accepted understanding of that response has been too limited. We usually hear that it was a reaction against the … Continue reading

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Decisions, Maybe Bad Ones

This video of Gerhard Richter in his studio shows him painting a couple of largish abstracts, with three big pots of paint—yellow, red and blue—and a wide brush. The sequence in question is from 12-23 minutes. It’s a pleasure to … Continue reading

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Destruction

Further to the phenomenon of iconoclasm or demolition of cultural monuments—the first thing that comes to mind is that modern art has always been iconoclastic and in fact very destructive. I’m enraged to read about the burning of old Korans … Continue reading

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Late Picasso

I’ve been reading some of the writings of Patrick Heron, an artist who suffered somewhat from his extreme eloquence as a writer. He certainly has me beat, and I know what he was up against, because his writing didn’t help … Continue reading

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By their taste you will know them

By chance Picasso bumps into Robert Delaunay, and he gives the password—“Cézanne.” Delaunay responds and now they are on the same wavelength, co-conspirators of art. But then Picasso offers the secret handshake—“the late bathers”—and Delaunay doesn’t get it. He prefers … Continue reading

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Appearance and Desire

Nineteenth century artists like Cézanne and Degas believed that if they channeled sexual energy into their work they would get better results. Matisse had the same view. Models should be attractive, but the feelings they aroused had to be transformed … Continue reading

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Object Matter

From William Tucker’s book The Language of Sculpture, comes these further words on cubist construction: “Apart from their richness and power as individual pieces, all these wooden constructions demonstrate the object-nature of modern sculpture. They take objects, still-life, as their … Continue reading

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Planar Construction

William Tucker’s book contains the following very apposite remarks on cubist construction:“Painting gives way to physical making, and survives only to key or differentiate existing parts. The picture surface has been replaced by the frontal planes of real volumes, although … Continue reading

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Figures

An earlier post got me thinking. Balzac’s “The Unknown Masterpiece” is an iconic work of literature for modernists, from say Cézanne to Picasso. The blank map in The Hunting of the Snark is equally important for the transition from abstraction … Continue reading

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Gallerists and Dealers

I just came across a catalog of Picassos in the Nahmad collection. The Nahmad family is an art dealing dynasty that goes back a couple of generations. Recently Helly Nahmad was busted for running an illegal gambling ring in his … Continue reading

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Wilhelm Worringer

Recently I put up a post on Wilhelm Worringer’s classic book, Abstraction and Empathy. It worked off an earlier post about Michel Serres, but I didn’t give it much importance; it was something of a placeholder. But as Mr. Waller … Continue reading

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A Heaving Space

The following words from Ehrenzweig approximate very closely Andreas Neufert‘s thesis that Pollock’s gestures mimic the eye movements stimulated by cubism: “Cubism went out of its way to deny the eye stable focusing points round which the rest of the … Continue reading

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The Planar Dimension

Been reading the catalog of a 1979 show at the Guggenheim Museum called The Planar Dimension. The essay by Margit Rowell can only be described as lucid and enlightening. Her discussion of Picasso’s constructions is brilliant, and the essay in … Continue reading

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Love Letters

I’ve been enjoying a group of small works in Stella’s Kleist series named after some of the writer’s love letters. Each one has a nice formal gesture; this piece, for example, has parts that swing up and down in opposite … Continue reading

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How Hummingbird?

Yesterday I saw a show by Patrick Howlett. It fit well with my recent thoughts on Stella because Howlett’s work is also distinguished by sheer pictorial invention. Abstraction should not mean but be, to paraquote a famous poet. The largest … Continue reading

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Change, Evolution, Progress

Been reading Stephen Jay Gould’s Wonderful Life, finally, after long postponement. Well worth the time and effort. One point he makes, which can never bear too much repetition, is that evolution does not mean progress or development. We commonly use … Continue reading

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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 … Continue reading

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Modernist Method

An example of modernist practice in its purest form might be the paintings of Paul Klee. He starts with a formal idea, a method, a sense of how relationships should play out, and the work is generated from that. Whether … Continue reading

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Another Correction

Earlier I suggested that Frank Stella is the Picasso of the last half of the twentieth century, and that what gives him such an high stature is his capacity for change. I was a little doubtful at the time, and … Continue reading

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Entangled

The interlacing method offers a beautiful dance of forms, as complex and layered as one could want, unified through the unbroken flow of line. Clearly, this is an important source for Pollock. But also important are all the pictorial possibilities, … Continue reading

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The Milliner’s Workshop

Maybe the most ambitious example of the interlacing style of cubism is this large piece by Picasso. That the labor represented is mimicked in the manner is interesting enough. But to show the potential of the interlacing method this piece … Continue reading

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Stella’s Achievement

It’s always contentious to raise the subject of cubism in the context of American art. Today it seems remote. The pictures look small and intense in a way that pictures today are not. They also have a kind of antique … Continue reading

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Bad Art

Going back to the conversation between Christopher Green and T.J.Clark that I mentioned before, one of Clark’s comments bothered me. He said that “hack” artists, bad ones, are certain that they have found the right way to render modernity. In … Continue reading

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Time and the Work

Following from the preceding post, the movement of the work, which usually means the movement from work to work in a series, should resemble in its effects the real movement of time—works eating each other up. For this to happen … Continue reading

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To find

Looking back at Clark’s article on Picasso and Modern British Art, about the Stedelijk still life he says “Picasso’s colouring and cross-hatching are infinitely more nervous and ad hoc than they look from ten feet away.” It’s the ad hocness … Continue reading

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Picasso

There’s a Picasso show in Toronto right now, which I just saw for the second time. The famous gynomorphic still life, reproduced everywhere, is three to four times bigger than I expected. Big hacking strokes with a wide brush. Now there’s … Continue reading

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Shaped canvas

My claim, in the previous post, that Picasso invented the shaped canvas might raise a few brows. But what is this mythic Cubist installation? Or rather, what side of it is more important, the plane from which it emerged, the … Continue reading

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Scale internal and external

Continuing with T.J.Clark’s recent piece in the LRB, he had some very perceptive things to say about Picasso’s skill at scaling an image to its support. Looking with the eyes of the present, Clark can’t help but see that today … Continue reading

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Art and thought

A recent article by T.J.Clark in the LRB is quite good. It’s mostly about the inadequacy of British art, a topic worth returning to. Discussing the amazing Three Dancers in the Tate he notices Picasso’s “power of mind.” This is … Continue reading

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