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Picasso Essay

1057 words - 4 pages

Pablo Picasso was probably the most influential modern painters of the 20th century. Born in Spain, he lived in France much of his life painting, sculpting, making ceramics, and doing graphic artwork. His style was quite avant-garde and unique, and he changed it many times during his career. Picasso was one of the artists to lay the foundations for Cubism, a style that used angular, cube-like structures to depict people and things. He loved to shock the public with his strange, powerful paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures. Picasso was among the first to make collages by pasting material onto the canvas.Before his 50th birthday, the Spaniard from Malaga had become the very prototype of the modern artist as public figure. No painter before him had had a mass audience in his own lifetime. Picasso's audience--meaning people who had heard of him and seen his work, at least in reproduction--was in the tens, possibly hundreds, of millions. He and his work were the subjects of analysis, gossip, dislike, adoration and rumor. He was a superstitious, sarcastic man, sometimes rotten to his children, often mean to his women. He had contempt for women artists. His famous remark about women being "goddesses or doormats" has rendered him odious to feminists, but women tended to walk into both roles open-eyed and eagerly, for his charm was legendary.He was also politically lucky. Though to Nazis his work was the epitome of "degenerate art," his fame protected him during the German occupation of Paris, where he lived; and after the war, when artists and writers were thought disgraced by the slightest affiliation with Nazism or fascism, Picasso gave enthusiastic endorsement to Joseph Stalin, a mass murderer on a scale far beyond Hitler's, and scarcely received a word of criticism for it, even in cold war America.No painter, not even Michelangelo, had been as famous as this in his own lifetime. And it is quite possible that none ever will be again, now that the mandate to set forth social meaning. Picasso was the last great beneficiary of the belief that the language of painting and sculpture really mattered to people other than their devotees. And he was the first artist to enjoy the obsessive attention of mass media. He stood at the intersection of these two worlds. If that had not been so, his restless changes of style, his constant pushing would not have created such controversy--and thus such celebrity.In today's art world, a place without living culture heroes, you can't even imagine such a protean monster arising. His output was vast. Still, Picasso's art filled the world, and he left permanent marks on every discipline he entered. His work expanded, one image breeding new clusters of others, right up to his death.He was the artist with whom virtually every other artist had to reckon, and there was scarcely a 20th century movement that he didn't inspire, contribute to or--in the case of Cubism, which, in one of art history's great collaborations, he...

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