While there are many artists in history that have made their mark, Pablo Picasso has carved a niche for himself in artwork history as well. The painting Demoiselles d’Avignon shows how the primitive style artwork influenced Picasso’s creations. In his Demoiselles d’Avignon, the influence of primitive artwork can be seen in the African-like mask that one subject has on their face; Cubism is seen in this painting with its sharp geometrical angles, exaggerated limb and body proportions. Picasso revolutionized European painting methods using this style of artwork.
This eerie painting with the strange faces, arms twisted in what appears to be agonizing angles. Legs splayed in provocative positions: that is what you see when you view the painting, Demoiselles d’Avignon. This intriguing painting was created in 1907. He only allowed it to be viewed in 1937, he had deemed it unfinished and it was then that he allowed it to be looked upon. He had changed it many times. The characters within the painting changed many times from a sailor and a student, to two nude women ( www.princeton.edu ). It is stated that he wanted, “no anecdotal detail to interfere with the sheer impact of the work.” The setting of the painting was supposed to be a brothel, the women, supposedly prostitutes. The only inference that it was such a place was in the title of the painting: Avignon was a street in Barcelona known for their brothels (The Museum of Modern Art).
The street of which this painting is named after is an actual street in which he in fact actually frequented. Picasso had quite a competitive streak and this painting was a result of his pursuit to best his rival, Henry Matisse. Matisse’s paintings showed great wide, uncrowded space, where as Picasso’s showed the women in which he painted crowded close together. The Demoiselles d’ Avignon also was painted deeper tones and colors whereas Matisse’s paintings used bright, vibrant color. Pablo Picasso might have been quite ambitious, but he repaid his debts so to speak. To show that Matisse’s style was worthy, he showed his appreciation by painting the woman that stands in the back with her arms raised behind her head, (third from the right), which has an uncanny familiarity to a woman that stands with her elbows raised as well in Matisse’s painting Les Bonheur d’Vivre (The Joy of Life) ( www.smarthistory.org).
There were many different artists that Picasso was influenced by, but he influenced many in his own right. He and Georges Braque brought the world Cubism, a non-objective way of painting “by emphasizing the process of construction, of creating a pictorial rhythm, and converting the represented forms into the essential geometric shapes: the cube, the sphere, the cylinder, and the cone (Boguslawski 1998-2005). The sharp angles that are seen within the painting of Demoiselles d’ Avignon, can be recognized by the shape of the women’s breasts, the strange curves of the chins and angular noses. The bend of their legs show the cone shapes and are somewhat shocking yet, queerly erotic. This influence of Matisse’s paintings and Picasso’s need for recognition based on his own artistic merit is what caused Cubism to be marked as the beginning of abstract art ( http://pablo-picasso.paintings.name/ ).
Primitive art is also seen within Pablo Picasso’s paintings. Primitive art is nothing like the realism that was popular in Picasso’s world. While everyone was making landscapes and of women and men playing croquet, there was a new kind of art taking place. Primitive art has no interest in realism. Its focus is spiritual. The masks, images, statues are created for communication with the spirit world. The eye must see with imagination and a type of magic when looking at these pieces of art ( www.historyworld.net ). Pablo Picasso got his inspiration of using primitive art within his creations in 1906. He traveled to Gosol, a small Spanish village; the styles he observed moved him to add it to his style of artwork. Egyptian symmetry, ancient Greek sculpture, the Virgins of Catalan art, Cezanne’s geometric planes and the rough expressionism of Negro statuettes gave him fodder for his paintings ( www.princeton.edu ).
The faces within the painting, Demoiselles d’ Avignon are obscured by African inspired masks. He had imagined that these masks had magical properties that kept a person safe from dangerous spirits. He’s said to have said that this was his, “first exorcism painting”. A fear that was circulating through Paris at the time was sexual transmitted diseases. It was this fear that Pablo Picasso had in mind when he began painting this painting. Earlier sketches of the painting show clearly the link between sexual pleasure and mortality (The Museum of Modern Art, 1999). The style of painting such as primitive art, freed the artist to use his imagination to portray his feelings, emotions, thoughts, and beliefs to the viewers of his masterpiece ( www.historyworld.net ).
Painting naked women and figures in painting was not unheard of or even frowned upon in the early 20th century art scene. What was shocking about Demoiselles d’ Avignon? Looking at the painting, you see four women, all of them are nude. They are not graphic necessarily. There is no real detail to the breasts or genitalia. The shocking element to the painting is the positions of the bodies. The way the eyes stare directly at the viewer is unsettling, the way the legs splay is suggestive and many thought it was crude. All of the figures are deformed with over-grown arms, legs, and twisted heads. The way the legs of one woman are splayed is thought of as suggestive and many perceived that to be crude. The great sweeping, slashing, diagonal, and angular lines give the viewer the idea of violence and anger. (www.bbc.co.uk ). the painting itself opened a door to a whole new way of artists to express their talents.
Though Pablo Picasso was extremely ambitious he and his fellow artists made a mark in the Art world. They expressed their talents by using what influenced them; both primitive art and Cubism. He shocked the art world with his sharp angles and showed just a touch of himself within the painting Demoiselles d’ Avignon, and even gave credit where credit was due.
References http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A898699 http://blogs.princeton.edu/wri152-3/f05/cargyros/les_demoiselles_davignon_picassos_influences_in_th.html Rich and Strange : Gender, History, Modernism DeKoven, Marianne Pages: 250 Publisher: Princeton University Press Date Published: 10/1991 Themes in Modern European History, 1890-1945 Hayes, Paul Pages: 324 Publisher: Routledge Date Published: 09/1992 Modernism, 1910-1945 : Image to Apocalypse Goldman, Jane Pages: 337 Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Date Published: 02/2004 http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?historyid=ab19 http://www.moma.org/collection/object.php?object_id=79766 Imagining the Primitive in Naturalist and Modernist Literature Rossetti, Gina M. Pages: 205 Publisher: University of Missouri Press Date Published: 12/2005 http://smarthistory.org/les-demoiselles-davignon.html http://tars.rollins.edu/Foreign_Lang/Russian/cubism.html