26 Mar 2015

Ssh! The Secret of Picasso’s Ear

Ears make sense as one of the five: touch, taste, sight, sound and smell. But who thinks about Picasso's ears? We mostly remember his eyes: deep, dark and powerful. Yet he himself - as I don't think has been noted before - seems to have been very conscious that he had large ears. Noddy, a...

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11 Jan 2015

Hans Memling and Cubism

Every time I look at this Portrait of a Man by Hans Memling I feel a little sick. I’m serious. It makes me slightly nauseous. Perhaps Walter Pater, the 19th-century art historian, felt similarly about the Mona Lisa. He described her as a weirdo and he's right.1 No Renaissance woman had...

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13 Mar 2014

Flat Noses on a Frontal Face

A year ago I used this early portrait drawing by Ingres (left) to demonstrate that Picasso's combination of faces from differing viewpoints, a hallmark of Cubism, was a technique practiced by earlier artists for a similar reason. Ingres, for instance, drew Monsieur Devillers' face frontally but...

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25 Jan 2013 | 3 Comments

Picasso’s Unseen Portrait at the Metropolitan Museum

I was going to write about how the objects most frequently depicted by the Cubists in their café still-lifes – pipe, bottle, glass and guitar – were used not primarily as items characteristic of café-life as Rosalind Krauss and others have argued. At least that is not their meaning. They do...

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17 Nov 2012

Mental images from Holbein, Ingres and Picasso

It is well-known that Picasso admired Ingres' portrait drawings like the one above on the left. Separately I have shown how Ingres, like other great masters, changed the facial features of his sitters to fuse them with his own. Not all portraits were changed like that but many of the important...

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07 Nov 2012

Jacques Lipchitz as a Jewish Christ

Jacques Lipchitz (1891-1973) was mostly a follower of his period's more innovative artists but that does not mean that he lacked the visual perception to make sense of art. He had that in spades. The bronze, above left, of a Pierrot, a well-known character in Italy's Commedia dell' Arte, refers...

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30 Oct 2011 | 2 Comments

Cubism Explained

No-one, to my mind, has ever satisfactorily explained Cubism. Indeed I have found the explanations and their complexity totally confusing. Roland Penrose, a close friend of Picasso, claimed that Cubist images try: 

‘to state the penetration of knowledge beneath the appearance of objects...

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