We can only imagine the impact that this life-size painting had on viewers 100 years ago. “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” flaunts a brazen disregard for the made-up rules of art. Though the painting was not shown publicly until 1916, Georges Braque saw the canvas in 1907 in Pablo Picasso’s studio before the paint dried. And what Braque saw altered the genetic code of his intelligence forever. I suspect that for many artists today, “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” has lost none of its zest. Its clash of forces and ideas emits a power that does not fade.
Art historians typically discuss the Demoiselles in terms of content: a brothel—five prostitutes in an enigmatic room that includes a table with still-life (fruit), ephemeral fabrics (tablecloth, curtains, clothes, wallpaper), and possibly a chair; in terms of three major influences: Primitivism—expressed through overt sexuality, flatness, geometric design, and references to Egyptian profile-art (the woman at the left) and African tribal masks (the two right figures); El Greco (elongation/vertical distortion); and Cézanne (geometrization and shallow depth of the pictorial field, as well as echoes of Cézanne’s paintings of bathers in the arrangement of nudes); in terms of representational devices: the owl-like head swivel of the seated woman on the right (an early, literal example of “simultaneity”) and the profile-like flattening of the noses of the two women second and third from the left; or in terms of the geometric formal integers that comprise the iconoclastic aesthetic system (triangles, wedges, diamonds, ovals, trapezoids, and blends of these shapes), another indication of the long shadow cast over the whole painting by Cézanne.
But standard discussions rarely probe the deeper spatial qualifications of the painting. Commentators do agree on the basics: the 3-D picture space resides in a realm of ambiguity, signified in part by aggressive dismembering and foregrounding of body parts (such as the left hand of the woman on the left, the left leg of the second woman from the left, and the head of the seated-woman on the right). Through these and other devices of visual conflict, Picasso picked up where Cézanne’s research left off and plumbed an inherently architectural aspect of the painting’s organization: space. As a result of Picasso’s search for new ways to organize an aesthetic field and reconcile 3-D form with the flat picture surface, the Demoiselles violently upended the “laws” of linear perspective held sacred since the Renaissance and challenged the conventions we associate with how to represent everyday space.
Ultimately, as painter/writer John Golding and others have generally observed, the interplay of form and space in the Demoiselles contributes to a Cézanne-like game of affirmation and denial vis-à-vis the illusion of perspectival space versus the reality of the flatness of the painting’s canvas. Folded surfaces (fabrics), folded forms (bodies and walls), and folded spaces (inside/outside) appear with beguiling equivalence—oscillating between oppositional values: fracture and fusion, projection and recession, volume and plane.
“In Violin” and other collages by Picasso, Braque, or Juan Gris, the concept of “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon”—who represents what is termed as significant space—operates as a controlling principle. And from painters to sculptors to architects, artists today who tap this timeless principle become not only form makers, but also space makers. These artists learn the secret to becoming design makers.
This essay written by Madison Gray and major changes have been made. The full copy of this essay is at: https://archive.org/details/PicassoLessons
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Picasso Les Demoiselles d'Avignon Painting Analysis
"Les Demoiselles d' Avignon": A Deeper Look into the Women of BarcelonaPablo Picasso as many collectors know is one of the few artists who made an outstanding mark on people of all generations. Les Demoiselles d' Avignon is one of the famous painting of Picasso that dates back in 1907 and has become the classic piece that launched cubism on 20th century art as it highlights the women of Barcelona in a very artistic way.
Les Demoiselles d' Avignon has become the perfect representation of what Cubism should be like. The subject has made it possible for people to have different perspectives about the masterpiece and has easily become the point of discussion of many art aficionados.
Art should provoke an individual's curiosity and indeed, Picasso's Les Demoiselles d' Avignon has made the thought possible. The painting depicts five women in still form but what made the piece extraordinary is how the disjointed features of the women perfectly complemented each other. There are the women on the left and right side of the painting with mask-like expressions on their faces and the woman in the center was artistically created as her front and back body part is shown simultaneously without disrupting the impression that it creates on people.
Another commendable characteristic of the painting is the way it perfectly made the background mix with the main subjects naturally to create the impression that it is as important as the subjects in focus. Picasso has really worked well with the colors and has used it to make the art achieve a strong appeal while enhancing some elements that can easily give meaning to the painting.
Picasso has made it possible for us not only to appreciate his works but enabled us as well to see right through it. A lot of painting analysts have different interpretations of the masterpiece as they looked at it in a variety of angles. There are some disfigurements on the painting that earned numerous interpretations and this is just a proof that Picasso has effectively used cubism to create a remarkable milestone on the 20th century art.
A painting can speak a thousand words and most of the time there is so much more underneath the lines and the shades that are visible to the naked eye. The Les Demoiselles d' Avignon may seem like an ordinary portrait of people in the nude when in fact, the things that are seen on the surface just provide the way for people to tap their curiosity and allow them to explore deeper into what their minds can conceive.
However, other people may choose to interpret Picasso's famous painting Les Demoiselles d' Avignon, no one can argue about the fact that his amazing work is enclosed with an important message. The art may seem to highlight the different angles of the hospitality women in Barcelona but looking through it in a different perspective will easily open our eyes to the things that go deeper into the flesh of these women and Picasso has made it possible for people to realize for the more important things to be highlighted thru the use of magnificent artistry.