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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Les Demoisselles d'Avignon

Have you ever done a painting or other work of art that was so radical you were reluctant to show it to anyone?  Maybe you let the wife or a few good friends have a peek, but otherwise kept it under wraps. Don't feel bad, you aren't the first artist (nor likely the last) to endure such apprehension.

Even though art historians usually tag Cezanne as the "Father of Modern Art", they also seem to have reached a consenses that the first Modern Art painting was not by Cezanne, but Picasso, namely his Les  Demoisselles d'Avignon (The Ladies of Avignon) dating from 1907.  At 7' 8" x 8', it is monumental in size as well as importance.

Les Demoisselles d'Avignon, 1907,
Pablo Picasso
As the painting evolved in Picasso's mind and then on canvas, the artist seems to have been somewhat stunned by his own audacity in breaking new ground with every stroke of the brush.  After it was finished Picasso showed it to only a few of his closest friends who were likewise awed and dismayed by it's visual impact and power.  The story persists that he kept it under his bed for a period of  some nine years before displaying it publicly.  Given it's immense size, it must have been a BIG bed.

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