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The Sexuality Of Pablo Picasso Essay

1733 words - 7 pages

Pablo Picasso is generally considered one of the best and most influential artists of the modernist era and perhaps of all time. His personal life was anything but stable, marked by a vast sex drive that caused him to have multiple wives and mistresses, constantly searching for new women as he lost interest with his former lovers. This womanizing aspect of his personality and the tumultuous times in his life resulting from it had a great effect on his art. A large number of his works have a sexual component to them, such as nudity, phallic and vaginal imagery, and depictions of sexual acts. Furthermore, it becomes apparent that Picasso dehumanized women in his art, turning them into sexual objects rather than human beings. The multiple “periods” divide his artistic life are often a direct result of his sexual life. It is important to realize the sexuality of Picasso in looking at one of his works to gain a deeper understanding of it. As a result, we will examine both the sexual imagery in the works of Picasso and his personal life, and investigate how they relate to each other.
At the age of 46, Picasso began an affair with Marie-Therese Walter, who was 17 at the time. Picasso became fascinated with Walter and eventually separated from his first wife because of this affair. Although he had other mistresses, wives, and lovers throughout his life, he continued to adore her for the majority of his life. His experiences with her had a profound influence on some of his works. He used some of his more erotic works to seduce Walter and painted some of his most sexual images with her as the subject matter. The most famous of these works was Le Rêve, a depiction of a scantily clad Marie-Therese Walter sleeping in a chair with her breast exposed. Already sexual in nature, Picasso furthers this by inserting additional sexual imagery. Walter’s head splits into two pieces, resembling a phallus, implying that sex is on her mind. Her hands rest on her lap on top of her crotch, with the interlacing fingers forming a vaginal image. This is a prime example of Picasso using phallic and vaginal imagery, reoccurring themes in many of his works. Additionally, this sexualization of Marie-Therese Walter also dehumanizes her, as we will see he does with most women in his paintings. The split in her head makes her seem less human and more of an object that Picasso manipulates. Eventually, Picasso’s craving for sex further affected his personal life, as he found a new object of desire in Dora Maar, the next in his string of mistresses and wives. Marie-Therese Walter deeply wished to marry Picasso for the rest of her life, eventually hanging herself several years after his death.
The next works we will examine are examples of how Picasso’s sexuality affected his work from the beginning of his career. At the very young age of 13, Picasso’s sexual persona began to be revealed with a drawing of two donkeys fornicating. When Picasso was 16, he visited...

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