Picassos Brothel: Les Demoiselles DAvignon by Wayne AndersenFew paintings have been as extensively analyzed as Picassos Les Demoiselles dAvignon, and yet, according to Wayne Andersens radical new interpretation of the painting, it has been repeatedly misrepresented and misunderstood by biographical novelizing and reductive psychoanalysis. Andersen seeks to rescue the painting from the myths that obscure its origins, which depict it variously as an outburst of rage against his live-in lover, or as an act of vengeance for Picassos having contracted syphilis from a prostitute; such myths are the source of the artists reputation for misogyny. Looking back to the original sources of these stories, Andersen identifies a catalog of errors, passed from one author to another, which have distorted our view of Picasso.By studying X-rays of the finished canvas, Andersen reconstructs a ?lost? version of Les Demoiselles, a first completion prior to the artists ?epiphany? at a display of African masks that inspired him to rework the painting. By refuting the scholarly assumption that the grotesquely painted heads of three of the figures are integral to Picassos first conception, he shows that the original composition provides no evidence of Picassos alleged horror of women.Supported by 200 illustrations, including 12 color plates, ranging from Picassos drawings and paintings to contemporary pornography and photographs of prostitutes in brothels, Andersens provocative arguments establish Picasso as a man who wrested sexuality from the aesthetics of art, and created a new and revolutionary way of seeing for the 20th Century.Written in clear, accessible prose, this book will spark another round of Picasso scholarship, and appeal to the general reader, the art historian, and the psychoanalyst alike.WAYNE ANDERSEN is Professor Emeritus, History, Theory, and Criticism of Art and Architecture, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the author of seven books, including Gauguins Paradise Lost, named a New York Times ?Book of the Times?, and Freud, Leonardo da Vinci and the Vultures Tail (Other Press, 2000). He has lectured at several universities and art museums across the United States and abroad, and he has published essays and reviews on subjects ranging from Italian Renaissance to 20th-Century art.Critical Acclaim for Wayne Andersens Freud, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Vultures Tail?Wayne Andersen is an infectious writer and an infectious thinker. His book on Leonardo and Freud has all the ingredients that make for an excellent read, where one learns as much about Freud as about Leonardo, and about Andersen himself in the bargain.? ?James Beck, Professor of Art History, Columbia University?The most fascinating autobiographical experiment that I have read since Erik Eriksons Young Man Luther.? ?Thomas Rosenthal?A brilliantly complex and audacious book. One could not expect the amount of truth that Andersen brings forth.? ?Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times
Artwork Analysis: Les Demoiselles d Avignon by Picasso
Each figure is depicted in a disconcerting confrontational manner and none is conventionally feminine. The women appear slightly menacing and are rendered with angular and disjointed body shapes. The three figures on the left exhibit facial features in the Iberian style of Picasso's native Spain, while the two on the right are shown with African mask-like features. The racial primitivism evoked in these masks, according to Picasso, moved him to "liberate an utterly original artistic style of compelling, even savage force. In this adaptation of primitivism and abandonment of perspective in favor of a flat, two-dimensional picture plane , Picasso makes a radical departure from traditional European painting.
10 Facts You Might not Know about the Masterpiece
In terms of classical art historical analysis, Picasso has broken barriers in the methodology of his color application, formation of line, and composition; the language of this work is, in itself, that of its own. This passage coloration can be seen in the figure in the upper right corner entering the scene and also along the thigh and forearm of the second woman from the left. According to J. It needs to be said at this point that the two-dimensional effect, which is later to become one of the features that early Cubism will strive to achieve or regain, is more successfully attained in Les Demoiselles than in some of the later works where the artist still seems to be struggling against three dimensions. In this respect Picasso is forced to fight as much against his formal education as against his sensual and possessive nature which tends to lean towards corporeality rather than flatness….