I have been busy this summer, and I’m doing a little fall cleaning – on my desk are images and ideas I’ve been wanting to compile into a post since the beginning of June.
I went to Barcelona in June – if you know of any artist residencies there, let me know! I’d love to go back and work.
Anyway, Picasso grew up in Catalunya and Barcelona has a wonderful museum that focuses on his earlier years. Many things were striking about this visit, for one, he was prolific – I think we all know or sense that by the frequency, size and variety of his shows in the last years. Picasso can be quite controversial – I know plenty of artists who hate him; naturally I don’t love everything I see of his, by you can’t deny a power and presence in his work that is captivating.
This portrait is wonderful and makes me want to paint portraits! So alive!
Much is made of Picasso’s fascination with African Art – and it is true and well documented –
But take a look at this –
MNAC Museum of National Art of Catalunya, has the most amazing collection of Medieval Romanesque art, taken from local churches. I have a couple of thoughts here.
“Primitive” Art from many different cultures has a similar tie that binds – graphic, strong shapes – don’t you see a resemblance in the stern, symmetrical shapes of the Romanesque faces that remind you of the treatment of faces in “primitive” African art? We can assume Picasso would have seen work like this from the church. MNAC had tons, it was all brought to together in the early 20’s, but had been in village churches in Catalunya for centuries. How could a local boy not have been into a few of these churches and the MNAC museum in his life? My point: I bet these early Catalunya images influenced him, maybe even caused the African pieces to have a stronger effect for him because they echoed something he must have seen as a young boy – and I think we know that our childhood impressions are indelible. There is an undeniable power and intensity in the Early Christian work, African work and Picasso’s work.
Anyway, that’s my thoughts, I am DEFINITELY NOT any kind of art historian or scholar. I should go to the trouble of reading a book on the guy, but eh, you know, time. I enjoyed the city and its art though. Lots of inspiration here… Now I want to make some intense portraits!
*”primitive” in quotes because it’s probably not the best word, but I’m too lazy to find out a better one.