52:03 Picasso’s Le Printemps
Pablo Picasso’s Le Printemps hangs in the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
A woman sleeps on the ground while a male goat rears up to eat the proffered leaf. Her expression conveys ease and rest. Is that her hair in a dark cloud around the root of the tree, or the tree itself?
She appears as the passive principle, life-nourishing and supporting the activity of the goat by her being, not by her activity.
One thinks, of course, of the artist, so inspired by feminine beauty, and driven in his later years to numerous sexual liaisons with much younger women. This gendered dialectic may reasonably pose a problem for the contemporary observer and is open to critique, though it’s perhaps worth noting that the female figure, at least, remains human.
It’s interesting to compare this week’s piece with the Celtic statue of Artio we looked at previously, where many of the same elements combine in a similar way to convey a different meaning. In this case it is the woman directly linked to the tree’s root, not the animal.
The stylized presentation of the forms reminds me of the late Gothic style, where figures are arrayed to amplify their allegorical function. I feel echoes, for example, of works like van der Weyden’s Deposition, where even realistic figures are presented in stylized poses to convey the real truths that were of primary concern to the artist. Or one thinks of the allegorical paintings of William Blake.
Clearly we’ve moved through the enhanced subjectivity that inspired the Impressionists and on into something quite different.
And, naturally, one thinks of Stravinsky. If you have a moment, you might want to spend a little time with Pina Bausch’s almost overpowering interpretation of his Sacre du Printemps.