Monday, February 6, 2012

Bathers With Toy Boat

PABLO PICASSO 
Girls With A Toy Boat 
(1937)
In the late 1990’s I paid a visit to Venice, Italy and the Guggenheim Museum. It was there that I came upon Picasso’s Bathers With A Toy Boat. There was a lot of movement in the painting on both sides / shades of the beautiful blue horizon. Who and what was that strange creature peeking up from the edge of the world? The women, abstract impressions of the human body, were also fussing over a toy boat. Was that creature peeking a reflection of myself watching the action with the tiny vessel? All this amidst a clear blue sea and sky – a reflection, in my mind, of the tranquility I had experienced on the shores of the Adriatic Sea in Croatia. The work told me a story and much like a mirror, it seemed to be my own.


There was a personal connection at that moment but like many good things, they don’t last. I needed to keep moving through the Peggy Guggenheim in Venice. But that’s what gift shops are for so I bought a nice poster print that I have framed in my home.

There are not really any correct proportions to the figures, maybe with the toy boat, but that’s the point of Picasso, I guess? The colors are calm, conjuring soothing recollections of the sea and clear sky.

Good art should invite the viewer inside and, in turn, I invited the print of the work into my home where more personal meanings developed. We had a dog named Julie Jewell who in the mornings would peek up over our bed to wake us. It didn’t take long for me to associate this pup with Picasso’s observant being popping out from beyond the horizon. That’s something that only I can own, so I guess I got my money’s worth in the gift shop! On the other hand, the actual work of art is probably priceless but what worth do I put on my own experience with Picasso’s expression?

Picasso seems like the quintessential highbrow art acquisition. His name can be synonymous with Christie’s Fine Art Auctions. It would be nice to have an original Picasso but that’s out of the question. As I look around the walls of my home I see a lot of original art. And it occurs to me that it all has personal meaning. I don’t own any art that was an investment. It’s all acquired through some kind of experience or it’s our own work. My wife is a textile artist and her work is up, along with other artists we know. There are also pieces that represent Nirvana such as album covers and photos of the band.

I believe that art should be enduring therefore it’s transient. I mean, it’s on the move and it should be here when we’re gone and others will have their own interpretations.

Picasso invented his own style. His name is synonymous with the Cubist aesthetic. I don’t know if a more literal representation of the human form would have the same effect on me? Probably not, as I can’t image how else to represent the enigmatic figure rising from the horizon. Perhaps that would be an interesting painting – a nod to Bathers With A Toy boat – if the artist could pull off what Picasso did with that peeking? But the Cubism is asking the brain to process forms differently. That’s likely why modern art has gotten in so much trouble – you start to look at life differently and certain forces might not have that in their interest. If the art is a mirror, then you’re looking at yourself differently which is likely a good thing because various perspectives are usually better than a single view. Then art has become truly transformative. If it’s changing individuals, then it’s on the way to transform society. Hello to the new era of art, and the new era of humanity. No wonder people who don’t want change feel so threatened by some art?

8 comments:

  1. Eu tenho muito apreço por Picasso e os Brasileiros Romero Britto e Candido Portinari ,eles tem a alma de um artista,com a arte de tirar o ar.

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  2. krist,this is a wonderful insight about modern art....

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  3. This is really insightful, i've never thought about it that way.

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  4. Nice background story, writing and topic. Art does not really threaten change any more than attaching a label to a movement or person. See "Hope" poster by AP-Farley. Sometimes great art is simply great art, just as a great song is simply a great song.

    Picasso was a timeless artist who had an effect on many people because he was able to express his great talent. This world is better because of him and people like you, Krist, who can explain the power of an image to the rest of us.
    Dave

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  6. Hey Krist, any interest in writing something (essay, review, interview, anything) for an online art quarterly I started with a few friends? www.wowhuh.com

    Pros: ?
    Cons: No money, small readership

    Let me know
    talontrue@gmail.com

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  7. One thing I like about Nirvana's music is that it reminds me, in a sense, of cubist art. You can form your own interpretations from it.

    For example, when Kurt sang, "I like it - I'm not gonna crack, I miss you - I'm not gonna crack, I love you - I'm not gonna crack, I killed you - I'm not gonna crack."

    It's not really telling you what to think. It's just putting it out there and allowing you to piece it together or inject your own experience however you like.

    It's very similar to what John Lennon did with "Strawberry Fields Forever." Remember this line: "I think I know I mean a yes but it's all wrong."

    OK, why is that line so friggin awesome? Sure, the actual music rules, but you can really just interpret the line however you want. It's gibberish that makes sense.

    Much like cubist art.

    At any rate, this was a really good post. I love the whole "creature peeking out from the edge of the world" interpretation. I like this painting now.

    Thanks.


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