Author: Victoria Charles
Publisher: Parkstone International
Release Date: 2011-07-01
Picasso was born a Spaniard and, so they say, began to draw before he could speak. As an infant he was instinctively attracted to artist’s tools. In early childhood he could spend hours in happy concentration drawing spirals with a sense and meaning known only to himself. At other times, shunning children’s games, he traced his first pictures in the sand. This early self-expression held out promise of a rare gift. Málaga must be mentioned, for it was there, on 25 October 1881, that Pablo Ruiz Picasso was born and it was there that he spent the first ten years of his life. Picasso’s father was a painter and professor at the School of Fine Arts and Crafts. Picasso learnt from him the basics of formal academic art training. Then he studied at the Academy of Arts in Madrid but never finished his degree. Picasso, who was not yet eighteen, had reached the point of his greatest rebelliousness; he repudiated academia’s anemic aesthetics along with realism’s pedestrian prose and, quite naturally, joined those who called themselves modernists, the non-conformist artists and writers, those whom Sabartés called “the élite of Catalan thought” and who were grouped around the artists’ café Els Quatre Gats. During 1899 and 1900 the only subjects Picasso deemed worthy of painting were those which reflected the “final truth”; the transience of human life and the inevitability of death. His early works, ranged under the name of “Blue Period” (1901-1904), consist in blue-tinted paintings influenced by a trip through Spain and the death of his friend, Casagemas. Even though Picasso himself repeatedly insisted on the inner, subjective nature of the Blue Period, its genesis and, especially, the monochromatic blue were for many years explained as merely the results of various aesthetic influences. Between 1905 and 1907, Picasso entered a new phase, called “Rose Period” characterised by a more cheerful style with orange and pink colours. In Gosol, in the summer of 1906 the nude female form assumed an extraordinary importance for Picasso; he equated a depersonalised, aboriginal, simple nakedness with the concept of “woman”. The importance that female nudes were to assume as subjects for Picasso in the next few months (in the winter and spring of 1907) came when he developed the composition of the large painting, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. Just as African art is usually considered the factor leading to the development of Picasso’s classic aesthetics in 1907, the lessons of Cézanne are perceived as the cornerstone of this new progression. This relates, first of all, to a spatial conception of the canvas as a composed entity, subjected to a certain constructive system. Georges Braque, with whom Picasso became friends in the autumn of 1908 and together with whom he led Cubism during the six years of its apogee, was amazed by the similarity of Picasso’s pictorial experiments to his own. He explained that: “Cubism’s main direction was the materialisation of space.” After his Cubist period, in the 1920s, Picasso returned to a more figurative style and got closer to the surrealist movement. He represented distorted and monstrous bodies but in a very personal style. After the bombing of Guernica during 1937, Picasso made one of his most famous works which starkly symbolises the horrors of that war and, indeed, all wars. In the 1960s, his art changed again and Picasso began looking at the art of great masters and based his paintings on ones by Velázquez, Poussin, Goya, Manet, Courbet and Delacroix. Picasso’s final works were a mixture of style, becoming more colourful, expressive and optimistic. Picasso died in 1973, in his villa in Mougins. The Russian Symbolist Georgy Chulkov wrote: “Picasso’s death is tragic. Yet how blind and naïve are those who believe in imitating Picasso and learning from him. Learning what? For these forms have no corresponding emotions outside of Hell. But to be in Hell means to anticipate death. The Cubists are hardly privy to such unlimited knowledge”.
This book contributes to the re-emerging field of 'theology through the arts' by proposing a way of approaching one of the most challenging theological concepts - divine timelessness - through the principle of construction of space in the icon. One of the main objectives of this book is to discuss critically the implications of 'reverse perspective', which is especially characteristic of Byzantine and Byzantining art. Drawing on the work of Pavel Florensky, one of the foremost Russian religious philosophers at the beginning of the 20th century, Antonova shows that Florensky's concept of 'supplementary planes' can be used productively within a new approach to the question. Antonova works up new criteria for the understanding of how space and time can be handled in a way that does not reverse standard linear perspective (as conventionally claimed) but acts in its own way to create eternalised images which are not involved with perspective at all. Arguing that the structure of the icon is determined by a conception of God who exits in past, present, and future, simultaneously, Antonova develops an iconography of images done in the Byzantine style both in the East and in the West which is truer to their own cultural context than is generally provided for by western interpretations. This book draws upon philosophy, theology and liturgy to see how relatively abstract notions of a deity beyond time and space enter images made by painters.
Author: Ilia Dorontchenkov
Publisher: Univ of California Press
Release Date: 2009-06-10
From the first Modernist exhibitions in the late 1890s to the Soviet rupture with the West in the mid-1930s, Russian artists and writers came into wide contact with modern European art and ideas. Introducing a wealth of little-known material set in an illuminating interpretive context, this sourcebook presents Russian and Soviet views of Western art during this critical period of cultural transformation. The writings document complex responses to these works and ideas before the Russians lost contact with them almost entirely. Many of these writings have been unavailable to foreign readers and, until recently, were not widely known even to Russian scholars. Both an important reference and a valuable resource for classrooms, the book includes an introductory essay and shorter introductions to the individual sections.