Portrait of Picasso

Portrait of Picasso

Portrait of Picasso

Portrait of Picasso

Excerpt

In 1881, Pablo Picasso was born at Malaga into a world very different from that in which we live today; but we have grown accustomed to spectacular and dramatic changes with unexpected ease, and discoveries which at that date seemed incredible are now considered commonplace. Man has been borne along at a dizzy speed into the hazards and wonders of the atomic age. The advances of science have been welcomed greedily with little thought as to their consequences and new and more dazzling inventions are awaited with the eagerness of a child hoping for a new toy. It is, however, noticeable that society has not greeted with equal enthusiasm the revolution that has happened during the same period in the arts. Here, every development has been received with violent and stubborn opposition. The work of all advanced artists has been associated with blasphemy, indecency, insanity, and immorality. Politically it has been considered to be a symbol of treason: witness the cries of sales Boches at the first performance of Parade in Paris in 1917, and the term 'Bolshevik Art' which paradoxically has been used to describe those forms of art that have been severely discouraged in the U.S.S.R. for more than thirty years.

Accepting and even enjoying the innovations of science, the artist has still continued to perform his ancient function, the discovery of new forms of expression. The refusal of society to admit the validity of his work has in no way deterred him. It has on the contrary added zest.

In the last decade however, the situation has changed. Already it is difficult to remember how violent was the struggle. The work of those who rebelled is now shown in places of honour and the term avant garde is ceasing to retain its former meaning. The talent and imagination of the pioneers is still evident but it is easy to forget their courage and the challenge they made to basic problems of aesthetics and the relationship between art and life. The accepted conceptions of good taste, common sense, and beauty which in 1881 were revered as yardsticks by which society could safely form its judgements have been questioned. Even beauty itself is now uncertain of its name. But the wearied and discredited concepts of the past have not been destroyed by theorists and scholars but by the creative work of artists who have discovered new means of expression and opened our eyes to new forms of vision.

A movement of such consequence can only happen when a direction is given to it by men of genius. The past seventy-five years have . . .

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