Saturday, October 24, 2009

Las Meninas, Gone Picasso

Between August and December 1957, Pablo Picasso painted a series of 58 interpretations of Las Meninas by Velázquez, all of which, lucky for me, fill the Las Meninas room of the Museu Picasso in Barcelona. Picasso didn't vary the characters within the series, rather he examined and expanded them, according to the museum, in an "exhaustive study of form, rhythm, colour and movement."

Picasso wrote, "Suppose one were to make a copy of Las Meninas. If it were I, the movement would come when I would say to myself, suppose I moved this figure a little to the right or left? Almost certainly I would be tempted to modify the light or arrange it differently... it would become my Las Meninas."

Every painting is different. You can see him honing his craft, carrying some devises from one painting to another, abandoning others. My favorite study was this one, when he actually imagines the Infanta Margarita in profile - moving his perspective in space.

The discipline Picasso exuded in this series is astounding. It's inconceviable to imagine that Picasso created nearly 60 original paintings in just four months... that's about the length of a college semester. If only I'd been that productive in school.

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