Sunday, June 17, 2012

A repeat from 2009

Picasso, Mandolin and Guitar, 1924. Oil with sand on canvas, 55 3/8 x 78 7/8 inches. Guggenheim Museum, NY.

The painting has always annoyed me; predicting the future a la Jules Verne, but instead of a submarine we get a surprisingly accurate portrait of the artist as an old man, 40 years ahead. And I've never been a fan of Arcimboldo.
It was part of the template for cartoons from the late 50's and early 60's, Warner Bros. and Disney -cubist and surrealist design motifs- through many others, including Dufy and Ludwig Bemelmans. Look at the window and the door on the right: the flat shadows and light. In the flatness of a reproduction it's easier to see. None of this makes it any better, any less contrived or over-determined.
Actually I've always hated this fucking painting. It's Pop without irony.

When I first posted this I sent a note to an old family friend (who has a professional interest in such things). I never posted his reply.
Just came from Clark's first lecture, which, indeed, was on your painting. In the question period afterwards, someone said, I see a skull in the painting. Clark likened as how, yes, some people have said that (I don't know whether actually have written about it), but he himself isn't interested in it. Too bad, I say, because it is a dimension of the painting (a perspective on it) that is there and should be taken in as we consider it. Picasso was, above all, a metamorphic, a polymorphic painter.
I'm still amazed no one sees the eyes in the sockets, or recognizes the face.

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