'Bacchanal with Young Goat and Onlooker' (1959). Pablo Picasso. Linocut. 21"x25.25". Courtesy of the Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society and Norton Simon Museum.

‘Unseen Picasso’ @ The Norton Simon Museum

October 22, 2021

The Norton Simon Museum has recently publicly exhibited etchings from the famed 20th century fine artist master Pablo Picasso. What certifies a genuine artistic spirit is its unquenchable desire for more novelty. To impose higher demands of originality upon itself, which creates a continuum of creativity which is doubtlessly expressed with Mr. Picasso’s anthology.

‘Two Nude Women’ (1946) by Pablo Picasso. Lithograph, eighth state. 10×13″. Courtesy of Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artist Rights Society and the Norton Simon Museum.


Specifically with his etchings, we see his playfulness with lines. There is a distinct characteristic emphasis on the sharpness, on both the rectilinearity and curvilinearity in his compositions. Indeed, it is his confidence in his lines which provides the Western Fine Arts a totally new perspective on originality, i.e. Cubism, and ultimately the space humans occupy when perceiving the objects of Mr. Picasso’s consciousness. Only here, in his etchings, the line is free to be played with for its very sake; in adding solid forms, but never as mundane or bromidic as a saturated continuum of color, but rather with a festive life of their own; knowing where they can and cannot enjoy themselves in the sharper contrasts which make up his abstract figures.


‘Bacchanal with Young Goat and Onlooker’ (1959). Pablo Picasso. Linocut. 21″x25.25″. Courtesy of the Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society and Norton Simon Museum.


It is a delight to experience every composition as wholly original. Regardless of the actual subject matter, it is in Mr. Picasso’s efforts at, say, shading, in totally different forms, which is remarkable in their consistent focus at originality. We do experience a glimpse of Fauvist influence in, for example, Bacchanal with Goats and Spectator (1959), with the harmonious ordering of blue shading crisp white (possibly) palm-tree branches, presenting us with a sense of the animated spirit of living which is to be celebrated. The punctuation of the whiteness with such an austere precision develops a canopy pattern of heavenly sight draping over the jubilee in the foreground; with an abundance of leisure and water reserved for an enduring paradisiacal effort at play. This is the end goal of human life – its everlasting destiny of bountiful leisure or the Everlasting Sabbath.


In the Portrait of Jacqueline Leaning on Her Elbows (1959), we see further a wonderful celebration of the line providing self-certain forms, relaxing the mind’s eye in reflectance of an impossible perspective of a woman leaning on her forearms. It is beyond our human perception of the world to register two eyes from a side-ways perspective, and yet it is through his typical imaginary extension by Picasso of the human mind to give us exactly this. Is it confusing? Not at all, which speaks highly to the artist’s masterful style of re-imagining the world as it appears to us; to affirm, consistent with Western High Culture’s demonstration of philosophical progress, what sensibly appears to us is not the thing-in-itself. There is permanently more to that which meets our eye, and we must be cognizant to remember differing perspectives of the same object grant us greater insights into how we move through the world. Perhaps to avoid being prejudicial, in the likes of his classic Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. This is art, therefore, that affirms the opening of the human mind, thereby extending the limits of possibility for human consciousness. And this, therefore, is necessarily The Good.



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