Les Demoiselles De Avignon Les Demoiselles d?Avignon by Josh McDonnell As strolled through New York City?s Museum of Modern Art , one particular painting grabbed me , shook me , then through me to the ground to contemplate its awesome power. Like a whirlwind of art , Les Demoiselles d?Avignon , by Pablo Picasso , sent my emotions spinning. I felt extremely uncomfortable glancing at it , let alone staring at it closely for twenty minutes. The raw sexuality and tension that Les Demoiselles d?Avignon radiated was absolutely overwhelming yet very confusing. Other art lovers in the room also expressed discomfort as they glanced at the enormous 96×92 inch painting.
Most people would only allow quick glances in between long stares at the more typical paintings on the other walls. I even heard one girl remark ?it?s so gross!!? in a nervous and uncertain voice. I had to know why Les Demoiselles d?Avignon was doing this to me and the others in the room. Les Demoiselles d?Avignon was the product of an irritated and restless Pablo Picasso. In 1906 , Picasso began to tire of painting in the fairly traditional manner that governed his paintings up to Les Demoiselles d?Avignon.
His solution was to revolutionize painting.1 Why was Picasso unsatisfied with traditional painting? Essentially Picasso?s overall dissatisfaction for sticking with anything for a long period caused him to take up the difficult quest of revolutionizing painting. He was known to constantly change the styles and mediums through which he created his art. Andre Salmon, a poet and friend Picasso, was once quoted as accusing Picasso of ?trying to force his friends to speculate on the whole problem of art every time they took a brush in their hands.? 2 This quote is very telling of Picasso?s need to change and solve artistic problems. In 1906 he abandoned the painting traditions that stretched all the way back to the Renaissance , and began Les Demoiselles d?Avignon. Les Demoiselles d?Avignon was the product of intense study.
The comments of Salmon , shed light on the intensity of the project; ?…He became uneasy , He turned his canvases to the wall and threw down his paintbrushes. For many long days and nights , he drew…Never was labor less rewarded with joy , and without his former youthful enthusiasm Picasso undertook a large canvas that was intended to be the fruit of his experiments.? 3 Every aspect of the painting was carefully planned and executed. One might compare his trial and error method to that of a scientific experiment. His study began in late 1906. Over the next year Les Demoiselles d?Avignon?s details went through many changes and modifications. In Picasso?s own words; According to my first idea, there were also going to be men in the painting.
There was a student holding a skull, and a sailor. The women were eating–that explains the basket of fruit that is still in the painting. Then it changed and became what it is now. Picasso eventually decided to exclude the two male figures , as he felt they were trying to present some kind of moral to the painting.4 Instead he focused on the five nude female figures that we see today. It is important to note that Picasso hated the title Les Demoiselles d?Avignon. Originally he did not have a title in mind for the painting.
The name was created by his friend Andre Salmon He felt that Les Demoiselles d?Avignon was much to gentle. It detracted from the harsh and ugly reality that the painting represented.5 Eventually he accepted the name due to his friends constant use of it. Picasso finally finished the work in July of 1907. He of course invited all his closest friends to take a look at his revolutionary painting. His friends , whom were considered contemporary avante-garde painters and connoisseurs , were shocked.
Gertrude Stein was speechless. Shchukin ,the Russian art collector cried ,What a loss for French art!. His future partner in cubism commented that painting in such a way was as bad as drinking petrol in the hope of spitting fire. Matisse had the most violent reaction. He swore revenge on what he called a barbaric mockery of modern painting.
The only person who saw the immediate potential of the painting was Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler , an art dealer and friend of Picasso.6 Although he was heavily criticized , he was not affected by any of it. The almost unanimous negative reaction of his close friends occurred because Picasso had violated traditions that were held sacred to all of them. Although Les Demoiselles d?Avignon retains qualities that are bizarre and unorthodox , it still has some average technical qualities that are necessary to all paintings. Les Demoiselles d?Avignon is a whopping 8 ft x 7.8 ft ft of oil on canvas. It was acquired through the Lillie P.
Bliss Bequest and currently hangs on its very own wall in the Museum of Modern Art , in New York City. The colors are overall not very striking. Shades of pink and blue dominate the painting while touches of green and brown appear on the faces. Picasso?s brush strokes are very smooth , but erratic. The two women in the middle of the painting received the most uniform color and smooth brush strokes.
The other figures however , have different colored sections on their bodies. The figure in the upper right for example has brown sections on her breasts , both in different shades. Her arms are also a darker shade of pink then the lower part of her body which is a lighter shade. This figure also has several rough brush strokes on her breasts , while also having very smooth brush strokes on her stomach and leg area. A source of light is almost completely absent.
The only place that a light source is hinted at is with the women opening the curtain. It appears that her head is in some sort of shadow. Overall a source of light is unimportant. This will become important later in the paper. The above details are simple and unimportant aspects of the painting. One important aspect of Les Demoiselles d?Avignon is its solid composition. Picasso was known to be very interested in the perfection of form and composition. He gained lots of knowledge from the paintings of Cezanne. Cezanne?s painting were highly structured , and stable as he could paint them.
In particular Picasso borrowed heavily from Cezanne?s Bathers. One aspect that Picasso incorporated into Les Demoiselles d?Avignon , was the lack of depth. In the Bathers , the figures are packed close to the front of the painting. Even though there is a smaller figure in the back of the painting , it still seems like is close up to front of the painting.7 Cezanne is not the only painter that influenced the composition of Les Demoiselles d?Avignon. El Greco?s The Fifth Seal heavily influenced Les Demoiselles d?Avignon. Picasso often visited the painting at a nearby friends house.
The Fifth Seal was a very large and imposing painting. Due to damage it had been cut down into its current strange dimensions. Picasso liked the effect that it produced and used very similar dimensions in Les Demoiselles d?Avignon. The dimensions of The Fifth Seal helped Picasso solve some problems he was having with Les Demoiselles d?Avignon. There is evidence in his sketches that Picasso was having difficulties with the composition. After viewing The Fifth Seal he was able to solve that balance issues that he was having.
When Les Demoiselles d?Avignon is viewed , the similarities between the odd squarish rectangle shape and tightly packed figures is very obvious. 8 The above details do not represent the breaking of artistic traditions. They are simple details of the painting and its process. There are many other important aspects that made the painting offensive to his closest friends. One of the most obvious violations of tradition and logic was Picasso?s radical treatment of perspective. Leo Stein , the brother of Gertrude Stein , commented at the first viewing of Les Demoiselles d?Avignon , You’ve been trying to paint the fourth dimension.
How amusing!9 His comment was actually quite astute. Leo Stein noticed that Picasso had completely abandoned the system of linear perspective created by Brunelleschi in the early 1400?s. Picasso wanted to go beyond the physical limitations of linear perspective. Linear perspective restrained Picasso from painting beyond what the eye could see. He wanted to paint what the mind could see.
He w …