We’re on the fourth floor of museum of modern art looking at the painting by Pablo Picasso from 1909 from the summer of 1909 ’ Horta de Ebro’. It’s one of Picasso’s critical early cubist paintings. It looks very cubist already. I mean it already looks like a radical departure from Cezanne, but this is two years after the ‘Demoiselle d’Avignon’, so it’s already made that step. Yeah, he has. This is one of these paintings that lives up to the title of the movement. Cubism, cause it really looks like little cubes. It does. There are historical chronology is usually that after Demoiselle Braque really begins to explore Cezanne in very serious ways. Picasso’s response to…
follows Braque. Yeah, by the way of Cezanne, exactly, right. And he got to the south of Spain to this very arid environment and he can really get the sense of the terra cotta. We’re looking at the hilltop pound, there’s a little water collect down at the bottom, right, and actually we can even see the reflection in the surface of the water there. Of course what most people find so interesting by this painting is his willingness to pull and push perspective. So that we’re looking sometimes at the top of things, at the sides of things, from below and from above as we were moving and shifting our gaze to the side.
Yeah, so the objects become plastic, they become malleable, they become shaped by our movement through space and through time.
But they’re also all interconnected. That thing that Picasso and Cezanne started also before him of interlocking this different planes by color, so that something that’s brown moves into something else that’s brown like there’s a different shape that’s the top of the house that moves to the side of the house. So there is really a kind of loss of the separation of different forms in a space. They become a synthetic whole and actually he’s willing something else that I think further resist that. If you look at shadow and reflection they become almost objects and space themselves rather than just sort of an optical phenomena.
What you mean? Well, if you look for instance at some of the doorways in the center of the canvas, you can see that there are shadows, the reflections that cast of it and that is in some ways almost as solid as the objects that are purported to create those optical phenomena, right? So it’s almost this leveling of object and the visual.
And surface? More than surface, object and the sense of visual phenomena, something that is pure sight and intangible becomes as important in the canvas as a building.
Maybe it’s the way that we begin to see Les Demoiselle is the space itself between the figures, seems solid. Yes, exactly, right.
Ok. The other thing that attracts me as funny when you said that this is a village. Was that I imagined sunlight in the landscape and there’s no sense of it here to me at all.
No, there isn’t, you’re right. It’s funny that light has been. I mean light is clearly the thing that constructs form here, you’ve got shadow, you’ve got areas of light, right? But in fact fact there is no actual sort of direction. And it also has more to do with the subjective experience of one side as one moves through. The way in which the light is cast or shadow is cast, then what is in fact from nature? Right And other thing that strikes me is the way that you’re for example you were talking about these doorways. The one in the center really looks like a doorway into something. But just to the left of that there is something else that seems to be a doorway, that also cast the shadow but is also much more obviously as stroke of paint. and it almost seems like a positive form in front of the building in a sense. And yet it’s also a brush track.
That’s right. So this is constant dislocation of the way in which the form is constructed. So it’s not just about rendering of form, it’s not just observing a form, it’s actually also sort of this funny dislocating of the process of rendering form.
It’s very self-conscious in a very modern way.
It certainly is.