Picasso's biographers have often voiced the opinion (occasionally endorsed by Picasso himself) that his art shows no development. Such a statement about an artist usually implies that he does not change. In the case of Picasso something entirely different is implied, namely, that no meaningful connection derivable from a personal core can be found between his extraordinarily different "periods." It seems as though by some inexplicable miracle he has combined many artists in a single person; and the inference is drawn that this person is not a unified personality. There is a good deal of evidence, however, that Picasso the man is a strong, well-defined personality whose manifestations on the most varied occasions are remarkably consistent. We must therefore conclude that we are still too close to Picasso to discern the unity of his art. The same is perhaps true of the development of his art, though here we may point out even today that his work of the last fifteen years is in many respects a synthesis of that of the earlier periods. The extremely varied character of Picasso's art, which baffles some critics, is regarded by many others as evidence of his unique genius and his ability to play all the instruments of his time with equal virtuosity. But neither the naturalistic nor the so-called abstract school —to take only the extremes—can lay claim to Picasso: even when he seems to observe the standards of nature he is by no means without other intentions, and even when he is non-objective he is not apt to lose sight of nature completely.
Any artist's relation to nature is of basic importance; Picasso's cannot be reduced to any well-trodden formula. He does not paint "from" nature, in the naturalistic sense; nor does he create "like" nature, as the non-objective artists claim to do. He himself has said on occasion that he works "with" nature—meaning no doubt that his relation to it is personal, not objective. Nature has always been for him an inexhaustible source of inspiration; and "nature" stands here for environment in the broadest possible sense. It is not merely the optical appearance of things that fascinates and stimulates him, but the sum total of their properties graspable through form—something that might be called their "essence." For Picasso, art is a means of securing for him
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Publication information: Book title: Picasso. Contributors: Wilhelm Boeck - Author, Jaime Sabartés - Author. Publisher: Harry N. Abrams. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1955. Page number: 71.