Les Demoiselles d’Avignon: disturbing, shocking…mesmerizing!


Considered by many the quintessential painting of the 20th century, the first radical rupture with the aesthetics of the 19th century and all the previous western art in general, this iconic painting still has the power to mesmerize, disturb and even shock visitors to the MOMA in New York, where it’s been housed since the late 1930s.

The influences this enigmatic painting incorporate range from Iberian art, African masks, photographs of African tribes, and, mainly, the sheer raw inspiration of Picasso’s wild imagination, who probably projected a mixture of images, feelings and contradictions fished from the depths of his psyche onto the canvas. Access to the artist’s notebooks and sketches after his death in 1973 has shown that Picasso underwent serious preparation for this work. There are 700 sketches of what would become The Demoiselles before it finally came to light. Such painstaking preparation seems to be a unique feat in the history of western art. No other known artist has ever gone to such lengths to prepare for a piece.

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. 1907

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, 1907

Supposedly representing prostitutes in a brothel, the painting goes way beyond this interpretation, defying the concept of narrative or even of interpretation itself. It could be a deconstruction of many previous nudes in western art, taken apart and rebuilt in a total original and contemporary way. Rumor has it that Fernande Olivier, Picasso’s mistress of the time, could be the inspiration behind the faces of all of the women in the painting. Her response to the piece, when she first saw it, was a disconcerting silence, which can only me interpreted as profound disgust and hatred.

Fernande’s reaction was not very different from anyone else’s at the time it was painted – 1907. The work was kept hidden in Picasso’s studio for years and was only seen occasionally by his friends and critics. Despite the fact that Les Demoiselles had partially been inspired by Matisse’s revolutionary The Joy of Life, his reaction was very negative. He thought Les Demoiselles was a mockery of all they were trying to accomplish in terms of Modern Art at the beginning of the century. And he threatened to get back at Picasso for his insult. The work was only exhibited publicly 9 years after its creation: Picasso himself needed all this time to sum up the courage and strength to face the bombardment of criticism he knew it would generate.

Even viewers today sometimes complain of the aggressiveness of the work, whose characters seem to stare down at them with weird unpaired eyes in an attitude of contempt and superiority.

Despite all the controversy, however, the fact is most of us have grown accustomed to Picasso’s style – or rather styles – over the years, and the painting is the jewel of the MOMA, loved and treasured by most visitors.

NOTE: You might want to check out our eBooks available  from AMAZON.COM:  http://wp.me/p4gEKJ-1lS

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Jorge Sette

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pablo Picasso: a revolution in the visual arts


The key words to define the creative output of Picasso, one of the most famous artists in history – and whose art involves not only paintings, but drawings, sculptures, collages and pottery – are, among others: cubist, revolutionary, shocking, free, provocative, sinful, decadent, unique, striking, wonderful. Ahead of its time, as the work of most great artistic minds, it took time for his more innovative art to be understood and appreciated by the general public.

Picasso has become a brand. The influence of his work has gone way beyond art to touch the fashion industry, the automobile industry, architecture and design in all corners of the world for the last 70 years or so. Together with his close friend and rival, Matisse, Picasso is considered the greatest artist of the 20th century.

The Tragedy, 1903

The Tragedy, 1903

The art of Picasso and Matisse were always in constant dialogue. They were always paying close attention to each other’s developing work, copying and referencing motifs and vocabulary to advance their own pieces. However, this copying was always subject to a digestive process, where the opponent’s innovations and techniques were appropriated and personalized, coming out as distinctive and original manifestations, when they finally showed up in the rival’s work.

Unlike Matisse, however, whose work does not spell out clearly its relation with his personal life, Picasso’s works reflect a life well lived: his passions, his womanizing, his contradictions, his lovers, his wives, his friends, his loneliness, his unorthodox and bohemian life style are all reflected in his art.

If he chose, Picasso could easily paint and draw in a more classic way, in the vein of the masters of more traditional art, as his early works attest. However, he thought that, in an age in which photography and film took over the job of representing reality as it is, the objective of the artist was to push the envelop, going way beyond the mere copying of the world as one sees it. Besides, Picasso had a very clear notion of the arbitrariness of the various signs of representation from his own life experience: he was a Spanish national who lived in France for most of his life without ever dominating completely the local language. It’s speculated that this factor played a huge role in his liberation from rigid patterns of realistic representation of the external world.

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. 1907

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, 1907

By working mainly at night and usually painting directly from his imagination, without models, Picasso struggled and succeeded in exploring the inner life of things and people. He expressed in his work the way he felt about people, he let their personalities and attitudes manifest themselves through his masterpieces. He distorted and played with the objects of everyday life to make them convey aspects we are not used to noticing. He depicted reality in totally new ways by mixing styles, flattening perspectives, and thus confounding and broadening the viewer’s perception, painting the same scene as seen simultaneously from different angles.

But his work goes way beyond the mere exploration of his personal life and the attempt to exorcise his inner demons. He grew to express the whole dark atmosphere of the 20th century, the bloodiest period in human history, in some of his most violent and impactful productions – such as the painting Guernica, which conveys, in horrific and stylized detail, the violence of war and its effects on innocent people.

The lasting influence of this great artist will still be felt in many years to come.

Guernica, 1937

Guernica, 1937

 

 

NOTE: You might want to check out our eBooks series  available  from AMAZON.COM, TEACHING ENGLISH WITH ART, please click here:  http://wp.me/p4gEKJ-1lS

Teaching English with Art

Teaching English with Art

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Jorge Sette

 

 

 

 

Is Marketing Art?


According to the site http://www.oxforddictionaries.com, Art is “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power”. Marketing, on the other hand, is responding to people’s needs and desires with a unique offer that will sweep them off their feet. Is it only me or is there a parallel here? How is marketing close to art? Let me give you four reasons.

The  KThe King's Sadness, Matisse.1952

The King’s Sadness, Matisse.1952

1. Visual:  today’s promotion relies on images more than anything else. Text is powerful, but images are processed much faster by the human brain. So to grab the client’s attention and really engage with them at the deep level marketers need to do to break through the clutter, only compelling images and the right combination of colors and shapes will do the job. The marketing tools for reaching the client today are basically what can be channeled through social media, and social media is mainly about visual communication: Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, to name just the most popular. It may not be long before Pinterest Search, for example, beats Google, as sometimes you might not even know how to express in words what you are looking for. SEO and keywords will need to readapt to the new reality.

2. Design: Both the product and its promotion will rely heavily on design. Shape, colors, texture, coordination: products need to look and feel awesome, especially if they are to be worn by clients. Very soon fashion trends will dictate how wearables are supposed to look for the right season, I would imagine. Marketers should be ready for the catwalk. Dazzling is what we are all looking for.

3. Emotions: it’s hard to explain how some paintings and sculptures resonate so deeply with us. They just strike the right chord. Human beings will prioritize and choose based on emotion and then rationalize their choices. Marketers need to work based on this premise. Just like artists, their communication must draw people to them. Marketers need to churn out compelling content that will get customers to come for more again and again.

4. Skill: good art may seem spontaneous and natural, but I’m sure you know the amount of technique that needs to be put into it. You can only break academic norms and achieve effective and revolutionary results in Art after understanding deeply how the traditional rules work. In the same way, marketers need a lot of training to get to the top of their craft. And they need to test and measure the effectiveness of their communication endlessly to be able to keep refining it. Again, all this science is art.

As a marketer, it feels very exciting to know that more art and technique will be expected from me in the near future. Creativity and craft make us even more human, which, in a way, allows us to communicate with customers in a truly genuine voice.

NOTE: If you are into art, you may consider checking out our eBook series TEACHING ENGLISH WITH ART:

Click on the links below to go to AMAZON.COM and buy your ebooks:

1. Teaching English with Art: Matisse  http://wp.me/p4gEKJ-1kP

 (30 speaking and writing activities based on famous works by Henri Matisse)

2. Teaching English with Art: Picasso  http://wp.me/p4gEKJ-1lA

(30 speaking and writing activities based on famous works by Pablo Picasso)

3. Teaching English with Art: Caravaggio  http://wp.me/p4gEKJ-1mL

(30 speaking and writing activities based on famous works by Caravaggio)

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Jorge Sette