Main content
Current time:0:00Total duration:2:11

"Girl Before a Mirror" by Pablo Picasso, 1932 | MoMA Education

Video transcript

- Hi. My name is Grace Hwang and I'm an educator here for school programs. For a student that hasn't really been introduced to modern art, I think this painting can be a little bit challenging. Usually for students, I try to break it down for them, to see that Picasso here is really interested in taking a human body and translating it into colors and shapes. Your eye starts to look for things that are familiar, like oh, I see a face, I see some eyes and then slowly, these different shapes kind of come together and then, you see, like there's this mirror and I think that's really interesting, that moment of discovery for them when they're like, "This is a girl and she's looking at the mirror "and the mirror is telling her "something different from real life." She looks really sad or she doesn't like what she sees or it's showing her her true emotions and it's really exciting because that is a direct interpretation and I ask them, "Well, how did you get there?" Ya know, we start talking about the colors. They're so dark. Her eyes no longer have pupils. They're sort of sunken and deep set. The discovery that I've made in just studying this painting is the background, this crazy diamond and circle pattern, of it being a harlequin pattern and knowing that Picasso himself, thought of himself as like a trickster or a harlequin. And so, that the background is a metaphor for Picasso. When the students can go there, I'll offer that bit of information as a discovery that I've made myself through research and it's just really interesting because, you know, maybe for some kids, they're like, "That's too out there. "That's crazy. I'm just gonna stick with like, "this is the girl, this is how she perceives herself, "and that's what it means for me." And then some people will be like, "Oh, this is how Picasso perceives this woman, "young woman looking at herself in the mirror." What I love about art, especially modern art, is that it meets you where you are. Like, if you're ready to go there, it'll invite you to come in. And if you just wanna keep, stay where you are, it'll say, I'm with you there too.