Pablo Picasso

1881 - 1973



Contempt for bourgeois culture. The politics of subject matter in his blue period moved into a politics of form through rejection of academic styles.


Goes to Paris.


Blue Period


Iberian features show up in his work from the Barcelona modernists who, in the 1880's and 90's, admired ancient Iberian art (5th-3rd cent BC). Derain showed him an African fang mask from the Congo (today Gabon) which he had bought from Vlaminck. P made several direct wood carvings including Doll. (1907) Has been visiting, along with Derain, the Musee d'Ethnographie in Paris when it was little more than a warehouse.


Les Demoiselles d'Avignon poses reminiscent of Ingres' Venus Anadyomene (1808-1848) but transformed with the Iberian faces of the two central figures and allusions to African and Oceanic art in the masks of the two figures on the right. Not only is he destroying the academic image of the female nude and sexuality, but the use of 'primitive' imagery furthers the violent attack on European art as it inherently holds the political charge of anti-colonialism (me). There was a physiognomic link at this time to prostitution, no longer believing it to be completely sociological. Import the view of African feminine sexuality and prostitutes were seen as primitive. One must question if the artists does not participate in the stereotypes when dealing with these newly uncovered cultures despite his challenging European culture. Picasso "grapples with a central problem of modernism in general: how to radicalize structure and form, and abandon realism and narrative, with out also abandoning centrally important real-life concerns."



1)    Cubism and Culture, Mark Antliff and Patricia Leighten. Thames & Hudson world of art, 2001.
2)    The Success and Failure of Picasso, John Berger. Copyright 1965 John Berger. Originally published Pantheon Books, 1989First Vintage International Editon, 1993.