Sunday, August 26, 2012
Late Picasso: You can't confuse Picasso with anyone else
In Late Picasso, covering the last two decades of his life and art production, Picasso re-examines, remarks, re-evaluates and takes off from his own work and those of his peers and ancestors. He does not re-paint, he does not repeat himself as much as builds on his oeuvre, visiting, no retaking and occupying, the highest vantage points of his work.
Late Picasso is a deeper, newly found Picasso. Older yet now slower. He is quoted as saying that in while in one day he does a hundred drawings, variations, sketches and paints, other painters spend a 100 days on one painting.
A painter I admire much once told me that Picasso was over-rated. I did not ask after her why. Poring over each page of "Late Picasso," squinting at the paintings reproduced, he has completely reached another level, twisting-inside-out of the skin of Cubism, distortions that create a new lens of focus. While some of his late work may appear to verge on the sloppy, closer and closer inspection says otherwise. yes, his precision changed but his output didn't. In the 20-volume catalog of his complete work, more than half was produced during the period covered by "Late Picasso."
In art, in poetry, in painting, there are no accidents. In Picassos, there were no accidents.
Picasso painted his daily life, made meaning from his studio, from his relationships to women and other painters, friends and political unfoldings. Picasso made a chronology of art and the artist of a new type out of the life of his imagination. Picasso feared death, dying. This spurred him on to paint and paint, knowing that one day -- whether alive and incapacitated by age or dead, which to him we're the same -- he would not be able to. Picasso made many drafts and versions of his work, from sketches, to paintings to sculpture and collages. He then would paint his paintings, create sculptures from his paintings, an auto-locura [a self-crazyness], creating in the process a new process and fusion of what he had produced and accomplished and then some.
One of my favorite poets wrote that it was a crime for a poet to not write, to not produce poetry, every day. Picasso acted in the same way, literally to the day he died. For us, Picasso not painting was a crime to humanity.
Picasso evolved and emerged out of himself a few times over, a butterfly emerging out of the one cocoon where he created several lifetimes. Not reinventing himself but becoming a creator anew, not stuck on his accomplishments, pushing himself -- and in the process art, artists and us viewers-- to new limits.
Maybe many of us would have stopped, and maybe even the majority of work forgotten, after painting "Guernica." Picasso did no such thing. Ceramics, sculpture, collages, mural-sized paintings, poetry, theater, love making in all, Picasso's work will take many more eyes and generations to settle accounts. His last painting was an open work, yet to be finished or even started. The last painting? He left a blank canvass, signed Picasso.
Over-rated? Maybe. Great, yes. Individual, yes.
No one will confuse Picasso with anyone else other than Picasso.