Archive for March, 2009

Picasso (take one)

March 13, 2009
Here I am, about 12 years ago with oil painting "In Paris"

Here I am, about 12 years ago with oil painting "In Paris"

This painting was obviously inspired by my stay in Paris and by Pablo Picasso.  Picasso’s a huge influence on me, maybe a sort of obsession.  I place him at the top, the pinnacle.

Who else shares this “lofty peak?”  Well Joan Miro, Arshile Gorky and Surrealist painting in general.  I’ll go into my favorite art and artists eventually but yes, Pablo.

I know I need to transcend his influence and keep searching for my own way, my own voice.  I think I’m basically “there” after years of work and struggle.  There’s always growth and change.  I’m just not as concerned about being “overly influenced” by Picasso anymore.

Perplexed Personage

Perplexed Personage

I’ve read dozens of books on Picasso.  I got through all three volumes of the John Richardson biography.  I look forward to the next one.  Other writers on Picasso that I liked include Roland Penrose and Andre Breton.

I recently read PICASSO The Real Family Story by his grandson Olivier Widmaier Picasso.  He’s the son of Maya (Marie-Therese Walter’s daughter).  It was translated from the French by six translators.

This book gave me several good insights into Picasso, so I felt it was worth reading.  There was more than I really needed to know about the inheritance and the aftermath of Picasso’s death in 1973.  This included three suicides: later in 1973, his grandson Pablito, Marie-Therese Walter (the author’s grandmother) in 1977, and Jacqueline (Picasso’s second wife) in 1986.  Yet tragedy, is but a part of his life and legacy.  He left us many gifts.

If he wasn’t always as good with his fellow humans as he was with his art, well he has plenty of company.  It’s a case of being very passionate, even obsessive about one’s work.

I really appreciated one section on page 119.  First he quotes painter (and art historian) Jean-Pierre Jouffrey:

“”He would never allow himself to place objects in our hands in the same state he found them.  Passing through his hands, they emerged transformed.  This a moral lesson for us all: never leave anything in its prior state-always try to see what can be done.”

Then, from the author:

“To transform the world, to make it more accessible to others, to decode it, to offer a personal image of it to one’s fellows, and ultimately, to magnify its beauty or horror to grab our attention–isn’t that, at bottom, what being a ‘committed’ artist is all about?”

Yes, to be committed, there’s the rub.  I always say:  I’ll take the long way around.  I rarely take any short-cuts.  It’s always the difficult way, even the dangerous way.  You learn more that way.  It’s not often really the “scenic route” except inasmuch as you yourself may end up creating some of the pictures you most want to see.

Studying Picasso (and my other best heroes and heroines) always inspires me to commit myself a bit more passionately, a bit more intensely, to take things further yet.  It’s central to believe in art and artists and to struggle to do the best work you can.  More magic!   More surprises!   More mysteries!

P.S. I’ve also just finished Picasso at Work, a 1964 “photographic study” by Edward Quinn (with introduction and texts by Roland Penrose).  It’s a really great cache of Picasso photos.  One of the highlights is a photo-documentation of the filming of  Picasso for the Henri-Georges Clouzot  film The Mystery of Picasso.

It also includes evidence of Picasso’s love for hats, disguises and animals.  It shows him drawing with his children in 1953 and shows us a collaborative “finished work.”

It mentions that he loved to work at night, in the solitude and quiet.  He was confident that he knew color well enough not to be hindered by having to use artificial light.

Roland Penrose on  Picasso:

“As Picasso grows older the need to work increases.  It is as though he felt that the time he has before him is hopelessly inadequate for the amount of thought and emotion that he wishes to express.”

There’s a photo of Picasso drawing on top of a reproduction of one of his works!  He considers the difficulty of knowing when something is truly “finished” once and for all.  Picasso:

“One can always imagine an improvement, a colour to be added or accentuated; or the style of an original work can changed so that it then becomes only the starting point for something new.”

“After all, why trouble to work if it is not to improve onself?”

“The Main Point”

March 3, 2009

It’s always been my passion, to try and bring a true Renaissance in the arts to life. I’ve had a lot of daydreams where I turn into a sort of “Doctor Frankenstein” of some sort of new artistic fervor/fever.  Yet one can one person do (even if I could)?

More realistically, it’s more as if I become one of a crowd of artists, cultural workers and maybe magicians trying to bring this thing to life!

In any case, promoting a total Renaissance in all art forms has been a continuing project for me, for some 30 years now!  Create!  Agitate!  Emancipate!  Why Wait?

Some “fine ponts” (to wit):

1. Encouraging and promoting fellow artists, especially those doing strong or interesting work:  I search for the work and workers I most want to see, hear and/or experience.

2. Exploring the nature of quality and excellence in all art forms: What’s really good and what’s not? A lot of this is a matter of taste, but sometimes it’s just obvious.  In the balance of quantity and quality, we need to be honest and critical (especially with ourselves, our own creations).

3. Bringing Renaissance to life involves “building bridges” and forming connections.  The popular arts should be friendlier toward the “fine arts.” 

Young and old and in between, all backgrounds and nationalities, male and female, all “divisions” and signifiers: dialogue, work together, transcend!