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Posts Tagged ‘Pablo Picasso

“… life, by definition, is never still”*…

“Still Life With a Gilt Cup,” Willem Claesz Heda, 1635

Jason Farago explores some of the extraordinary things that a still life can tell us…

When you visit a museum’s collection of European painting, do you skip by the still lifes and head for the showier stuff?

It’s understandable. Their scale is usually smaller than that of other paintings. Their prices are lower. They can feel straightforward: Pictures of fruit and fowl, cups and bottles, what do you want from me?

Still life had a bum reputation for centuries. Early critics rated them as something less than high art…

[There follows a wonderful– and wonderfully-illustrated– close reading of the painting above, and an exploration of its reflections of its place in a globalizing moment in Dutch and world history…]

… this is the power of still life. It’s here, more than any other mode of art, that this social and economic life of things becomes visible.

Inside and between these carefully observed objects is a narrative of global scale. It’s a tale Heda tells even despite himself…

Art may show you the connections for just a moment. They will always be hazy. But some motions can only be sensed when you’re standing still.

A marvelous visual essay: “A Messy Table, a Map of the World” (unlocked), from @jsf— part of the “Close Read” series in @nytimes.

* Kurt Vonnegut

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As we uncover connections, we might send observant birthday greetings to an artist who painted still lifes (and other forms) to a different end, Georges Braque; he was born on this date in 1882. With his friend, collaborator, and rival, Pablo Picasso, he was central to the development of Cubism.

Georges Braque, “Five Bananas and Two Pears” [source]
Georges Braque, 1908, photograph published in Gelett Burgess, “The Wild Men of Paris”, Architectural Record, May 1910 [source]

“I began to paint chiefly still lifes, because in nature there is a tactile, I would almost say a manual space… that was the earliest Cubist painting – the quest for space.”*…

Georges Braque, 1908-09, Fruit Dish, oil on canvas, Moderna Museet, Stockholm

Between 1907 and 1914, Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso painted side-by-side– often literally, in the same studio– as they created the form we now know as Cubism, the most influential art movement of the 20th century.

Picasso has become the avatar of the Modern turn in the first half of 20th century. Braque… not so much…

Why is this show by Georges Braque such a quiet, hole-in-corner sort of affair? I find myself wondering as I wander around The Poetry of Things, a new exhibition at Bernard Jacobson Gallery of 14 magnificent still life paintings (and a single collage) by the man who is best known as the co-creator, with Picasso, of Cubism.

They span 30 years of his steady output, from the middle 1920s to the middle 1950s, enabling us to root out at least a partially satisfactory answer to a question that seems to be on so many lips: Whatever happened to Braque after Cubism had had its moment in the sun?…

There is no one else in the gallery during my visit barring the director, who is leaning too deeply into his reading matter even, it seems, to notice that another human being is currently sharing this basement gallery space with him.

Is it not a little odd that the first significant show by Braque in London for decades should be so lightly attended at 1:30 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon, in such a well-placed West End Gallery as this one, at the top of Duke Street St James, London’s oldest dealing street?

The fact is that Braque’s afterlife has been rather neglected. Henri Laurens inherited the estate, but has enough really been done to keep him in the public eye? And if not, why not? The fact is that his reputation has not been nurtured, massaged, and noised abroad — not when compared, for example, with the afterlife of Picasso. Was Picasso lucky? He had luck and skillful management, you could say. He was certainly a tremendous self-publicist in a way that Braque was not. Think of the Catalogues Raisonnés that he created with Christian Zervos, for example, and how early all that started. The first volume was published in 1932. Picasso knew what it was to be looked at. He also had the advantage of being perpetually, eye-catchingly restless. What transformations he underwent! And the Picasso story has been so effectively told and retold under the careful custodianship of the Picasso Foundation…

Braque looks and feels like a quietist by comparison, a swimmer against the currents. He did not have that lubricious Catalan stare. He did not rise up in indignation against any eye-catching war. He merely got on with it, year after year, making still life paintings of such restraint and subtlety, and much else too. None of the paintings on these walls shouts at us. They speak of self-containment, of a quietly impassioned, ongoing dedication to the task at hand. If anything, they seem to live and breathe, and even be in defiance of any easy notion of modernity…

Georges Braque, La saucière (1942), oil on canvas

The Neglected Afterlife of the Great Georges Braque,” by Michael Glover, in @hyperallergic.

* Georges Braque

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As we reflect on reputations, we might recall that it was on this date in 2007 that Picasso’s Portrait of Suzanne Bloch was stolen from the São Paulo Museum of Art (along with Portinari‘s O lavrador de café). One of the final paintings of Picasso’s Blue Period (valued in 2007 at roughly $50 million), it was recovered and returned undamaged to the museum the following January.

source

“The bad artists imitate, the great artists steal”*…

Here, via the Economist, a wonderful preview of the (broadly applicable) ideas that animate Austin Kleon‘s upcoming book:

click here to play

* Pablo Picasso (or was it…?)

 

As we apprehend appropriate appropriation, we might wish a harmonious Happy Birthday to Aaron Copland; the composer, writer, teacher, and conductor was born on this date in 1900.  To Austin’s insights above, it’s worth noting that Copland’s best-known composition, “Appalachian Spring,” relied centrally on the “stolen” Shaker hymn, “Simple Gifts.”

source, rights

Written by (Roughly) Daily

November 14, 2011 at 1:01 am

Sunday at the Opera with Enrico…

From the Caruso Archive in Denmark, a set of digitally-remastered recordings of Enrico Caruso, “The Golden Voice of the Century,” available for free download.

Bravo!

As we clear our throats, we might wish feliz cumpleaños to Caruso’s (rough) contemporary, Pablo Picasso, born on this date in 1881…

Modigliani, Picasso and André Salmon (l to r) in front the Café de la Rotonde, Paris, 1916

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

October 25, 2009 at 12:01 am

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