Today Milan welcomes Picasso with an anthology exhibition of 200 works by the Spanish Maestro. Swide’s Elisa della Barba, an art lover, is not a fan, tough. Here is why.
Picasso is one of the most important artists of all time. His paintings are sold at auctions for amounts of money that I will never see in my entire life even if I’d live a million years. And that’s a fact. It’s a fact, too, that I hate Picasso, and I am not ashamed to say it. Here is why the Master of Cubism doesn’t float my boat.
Hey, I don’t like you
Pablo Picasso's portrait
First of all let me say that I started on the wrong foot with Picasso’s art, because I don’t like him in the first place. He had way too long a name: Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Crispiniano de la Santísima Trinidad. A bit pretentious, isn’t it? He was also born in one of what I find being the ugliest city of Spain (a country that, on the other hand, I adore profoundly and consider my beautiful second home) and probably the only ugly one in the whole Andalusia Region: Malaga. If that is not enough, he was a (moody) womaniser, a shameless cheater, and had 4 children by 3 women. That doesn’t look like a serious, nice person to me.
You are (stylistically) fickle
Mosquetero's Bust, 1970
I like coherency and consistency in art, as difficult as it is to achieve it. Picasso went through many stages/painting styles. From the one before 1901, when he was just a teenager of 14 years old who mastered drawing technique, to the Blue Period (guess what? All blue-shaded!), the Rose Period (pink colors, a bit more optimistic than the blue one), the African Period, Cubism, Classicism (intended as being inspired by neoclassical style) and surrealism, and the latest works with mixed technique. Would you call that consistent? I wouldn’t. And I am pretty sure this was planned and had to do with the very well developed business sense of Picasso, a smart market move the one of changing to keep the buyers interested in what was next. At the same time this allowed him to not find a voice (a real personality I mean).
Seriously, tell me what that is
Farmer and Nude. Surrounded by Hens, 1938
I love art, but as you might have understood, I love especially understandable art. As I often find myself saying, no one needed any explanation of Michelangelo works. They were just there, that’s it, and you understood the greatness of it and were amazed by it. And don’t get me wrong, I love abstract art, but Picasso’s art is in-between and I can’t get. I can immediately sense the emotions in a Kandinsky, but when I look at some of Picasso’s paintings it really takes time for me to figure out what is it that he was trying to do with space and actual frames. To me it’s disturbingly ugly.
No, I don’t think it flatters me
Tete de femme, Dora Maar, 1941
If I had been one of Picasso’s mistresses (like Dora Maar), I don’t think I would have liked how he portrayed me, honestly. To me it always looked especially ugly to me how she represented the feminine figure, with no grace at all. Also, most of the times Picasso’s women in paintings are in pain or sorrow and most of the time they look really miserable. Also, they almost always look like maternal figures to me, even if he is representing his lovers. There is something disconcerting I can’t explain in that.
Colours not to my palate
The Kiss, 1969
Except for Guernica, I think most of Picasso’s subjects are all that interesting. And even when finally he decides to shake it up and portray a scene with more than one protagonist, I am not intrigued by the story he is recounting. Even a romantic or sexy scene doesn’t come across as something engaging. It looks clumsy, confused, sloppy, even if I am very conscious about the fact that of course there is a long preparatory study beforehand. It happens the same with colours. He once said: “When I don’t have anymore blue (colour), I use red.”, And that’s exactly what it looks like to me, in the way that I don’t think there is a beauty in the colour matching he uses, I don’t sense the vivid, the energy, the wild, instinct-driven painting style he probably meant to describe with that sentence.
Written by: Elisa della Barba