Picasso’s Women

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)  Paris, June-July 1907. Oil on canvas, 8' x 7' 8" (243.9 x 233.7 cm). Acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest. © 2011 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon Pablo Picasso June-July 1907. © 2011 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), MOMA,New York

Also at the MOMA in a back gallery on the fifth floor is this monumental Picasso.  It’s so huge, the women are likely bigger than you.  No small feat for my SigO who is 6 foot 6.  The thing that stops you about this painting is this delicate pink color like cotton candy, wrapping the ladies from floor to ceiling.  It’s inviting and fleshy.  These prostitutes are inviting and fleshy.   Their stare is both a challenge  . . . and an invitation.  Although Picasso is playing around with the cubism thing here and there in this portrait, I can’t help but think this is a valentine to these women.  The background is white and blue, cloud-like to me, and his normal thick black lines are thinner giving these women an ethereal, angelic nature.  And then there is that whore with a black eye.

In contrast to these figures is a portrait of his peacefully sleeping lover seen at the Guggenheim in the Thannhauser Collection.  Instead of the angular lines above, he is sweeping in his strokes.  Her arms are wide arcs, quite different from those sharp elbows above.   These curves offer an embrace, a hug to her.  The violet color is so delicate you can almost smell the lavender wafting off her as she sleeps.  She was 17 when they met and began their secret love affair.  Secret. . . because he was already married.

Woman with Yellow Hair (Femme aux cheveux jaunes), Paris, December 1931. Oil on canvas, 39 3/8 x 31 7/8 inches (100 x 81 cm). Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York,Thannhauser Collection, Gift, Justin K. Thannhauser  78.2514.59. © 2009 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Woman with Yellow Hair (Femme aux cheveux jaunes), 1931 Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York,Thannhauser Collection

One Comment on “Picasso’s Women”

  1. SigO says:

    What (straight) guy doesn’t love naked women? Picasso’s one of us, no really. He loved women. I’m walking through the exhibit and focusing on people and see a father trying to cajole his young son to “come look at the naked girls!” as a way to interest him in art. The son was visible embarrassed, not disinterested. I smiled.

    I stood and looked at the women closely and had two other thoughts First, Picasso uses lines in a most interesting way. I think he’s trying to say the lines don’t define what you see. But instead of blurring the lines like his predecessors (Monet, Cezanne, Renoir, etc.) who focused on light instead of lines, he actually embraces hard lines and then distorts them. Square boobs and blonde hair that smoothly transitions into a lavender colored arm are only two examples in the paintings shown here. I also liked how he uses black lines and white lines too. I was first drawn to the woman with breasts outlined in white, she seems kind of nice, but then notice her hands with stark, hard black lines. It took me more than a few minutes to see the effect of lines and I guess my conclusion was that my mind saw what it thought was there, even though the lines are a dominate and distorting factor. Kind of like a funny mirror at a carnival, I think I got it, ha.

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