Les Demoiselles d'Avignon ... was my first exorcism painting.
The scientific, mathematical and technological roots of Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon are a neglected subject in Picasso studies. 1 My interest is not so much how Picasso formulated the Demoiselles the way he did, but why. This why includes Picasso's quest to produce a work of art that would measure up to the magnificent achievements of science. To understand this we will delve into the artist's mind using available sources.
While this is no easy task with any artist, it is especially difficult with Picasso. Not only did he leave no reflective correspondence during the two periods, or campaigns, in which he began to conceive of the project that led to Les Demoiselles d'Avignon—the end of 1906—and of his actual work on it—March through July 1907, 2 we have to contend with his recollections, which often contradict history as well as each other.
Because many art historians have resisted considering any scientific dimensions of Picasso's thinking, it is necessary to discuss the sources I will use. The first question, of course, is why Picasso himself denied any scientific roots to the Demoiselles.