Symbolic Themes

As we have shown, Picasso made considerable use of Surrealist devices such as linking heterogeneous elements and levels of reality, or the process of formal metamorphosis; but in doing so he was guided by conscious artistic objectives to a greater extent than the Surrealist painters. This does not mean that the unconscious does not influence his art. His works, like those of other artists, unquestionably contain dream-like and "archaic" elements (as the term is used in depth psychology), and symbols that spring from the collective unconscious.

Symbolic themes preoccupied and sometimes even obsessed Picasso in the 1930s when he came to grips with Surrealism. The period in question culminates with a kind of crystallization of the themes in Guernica, the masterpiece of our century. A discussion of Picasso's unconscious symbolism necessarily touches on various psychoanalytic and even psychiatric interpretations of his works. These have been unsuccessful because they did not pay sufficient attention to the specifically artistic content of these' works. Hence it is not surprising that Picasso reacted rather violently to C. G. Jung's characterization of him, on the occasion of the Zurich exhibition of 1932, as a "schizophrenic." On the other hand Picasso himself pointed to a more fruitful approach when he declared in 1935 that a photographic record of the transformations of his pictures might be useful: "Possibly one might discover the path followed by the brain in materializing a dream." Only by following the symbolic themes in a number of related works which "the painter paints to unload himself of feelings and visions," can we hope to discover their meanings at least in rough outline. Accordingly our discussion will begin with the early works.

Note 18

Note 19

We have two pen drawings enriched with colored chalk, dating from 1901, in which the two main protagonists of Picasso's symbolic works, the bull and the horse, are rendered in a relatively objective manner: the bull, which is light in color, is shown in repose, without indication of sex; the horse is dark, and is built like the elegant saddle horses that Liebermann was fond of painting, and may reflect Picasso's fashionable preoccupations in Barcelona at that time. Characteristically, it is a mare—as is usually the case in the later works. During the same year

(p. 207) Seated Woman 1927

-206-

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Picasso
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 2
  • Contents 5
  • Preface 7
  • Thoughts About Picasso 9
  • Introduction I: Nature and Abstraction 71
  • Introduction Ii: Range of Styles 95
  • Early Years in Barcelona and Paris 109
  • The Blue Period 120
  • The Rose Period 131
  • Origins of Cubism 141
  • Evolution of Cubism 165
  • Classical Interlude 175
  • Picasso and Surrealism 193
  • Symbolic Themes 206
  • Guernica 225
  • Portraits and Landscapes 240
  • Antibes 262
  • Vallauris: Ceramics 278
  • Sculpture 285
  • Ornament and Image. War and Peace 295
  • Notes and References 350
  • Classified Catalogue 453
  • Bibliograpby 516
  • Index of Names 523
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