Thursday, May 6, 2010

Brava, Marie-Thérèse!

One of the pivotal art quotes of all time, albeit entirely un-documented (as far as I can find), is this one attributed to that old fart Pablo Picasso:
When I run out of red,
I use blue.
How 'bout that, eh? The secret of life. Some may say it indicates an absurdly overweening arrogance. Like, 'gimme a break, folks, you know they'll buy any old piece of caca I slap together.'  Or that it's ridicule or contempt of the notions of good craftsmanship and great care in materials and (especially) techniques that are valued in art.

Maybe so. But what he's doing here is advocating freedom. He had this thing in his chest that he had to get -- right away! right now! -- out and onto the paper. What it was that had to get out had nothing to do with "redness" or "blueness" or any other mere hue. It had nothing to do with the weight of the paper, the lightfastness of the pigment, or even maybe the composition of the picture. Rather, it had to do with the thought or impulse itself. With the root of it. Not the color it might (or might not) be rendered in.

I see a lot of pixels and energies lavished on materials, colors, tools, supports, techniques, and all the other paraphernalia involved in the making of art. And not so much attention paid to the soul of it. What Picasso says to me in that quote is a version of the venerable old motto Just Do It. A life plan I wholly endorse.

In Any Event, today seems like a good day to celebrate the old guy, since very recently a painting of his broke the record for most dough paid for a painting at auction. His 'Nude, Green Leaves, and a Bust' went for $106.5 million at Christie's. That's it there, above. This 1932 painting is of Picasso's "mistress", Marie-Thérèse Walter, "who was a teenager when she met the middle-aged Picasso in Paris".

You can read all about this painting, the Picasso 'period' it comes from, and his relationship with Marie-Thérèse, elsewhere. (Sample: “Ironically, this painting, which celebrates feminine submissiveness was executed on International Woman’s Day; this would have delighted Picasso.”)

That old fart.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I dig this post; had seen the headline about the recent sale. The Musée Picaso in Antibes in the south of France is wonderful; you should go there.