Picasso’s Women on the Beach (1947)

It's so easy to accept what you initially see; it needs no work. Creative perception, on the other hand, requires conscious effort to re-imagine the visual data in a different way. That's how artists look at other art; and what they plan for in creating their own. The illusion, though, must not only suit their own oeuvre but art's traditions too.

This lithograph by Picasso is titled Women on the Beach but is it? The horizon line is so oddly short that anyone familar with Picasso's work (or who has read a recent blog on EPPH) might see a studio.

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Captions for image(s) above:

Picasso, Women on the Beach (1947) Lithograph on paper.

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Picasso's painters often hold a brush horizontally as in the examples at left. The woman in our print (right) not only touches the "horizon line" but she has two right hands. Unaware of the "brush", a viewer might think Picasso corrected the the hand without erasing his first attempt. Instead the two are intended to indicate the dual meaning of the short horizon line. Artists often leave hints for the perceptive viewer; this is one of them.

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If we look at another print in the series (center) the horizon is gone but the same nude rests her head on a rectangular pillow as though the pillow is a canvas resting at an angle on an invisible easel and her head is painted on it. This makes the seated woman the real or primary "artist", a pattern fully in keeping with art's tradition of reclining nudes as in, say, EPPH's innovative interpretations of Manet's Olympia (1863) or Titian's Venuses and, of course, within Picasso's work too (bottom).1 There are hundreds of similar examples.

This means that In the scenes from 1947 (top and center) the seated nude is also an androgynous "Picasso" painting or imagining herself as a dreaming artist in the act of imagination because, as ever, every painter paints herself.

 












 

Captions for image(s) above:

Top: Picasso, Women on the Beach (1947)
Center: Picasso, Young nude women resting (1947) Lithograph
Bottom: Picasso, The Painter and His Model.15.4.70.V. (1970) Pen and ink on paper.

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Notes:

1. See also Picasso's Nude with Man and Bird (1971).

Original Publication Date on EPPH: 27 Oct 2014. © Simon Abrahams. Articles on this site are the copyright of Simon Abrahams. To use copyrighted material in print or other media for purposes beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. Websites may link to this page without permission (please do) but may not reproduce the material on their own site without crediting Simon Abrahams and EPPH.