Posts Tagged 'Picasso'

Under the Influence: What Inspired Picasso

Picasso’s first financial success came in spring 1906, when he sold the entire inventory of his studio to art dealer Ambroise Vollard for the then large sum of 2,000 francs. This allowed him and his partner, Fernande Olivier, to travel to Barcelona and from there to the Pyrenean village Gósol. In Spain, Picasso was a different person, Olivier remembered: “As soon as he returned to his native Spain, and especially to its countryside, he was perfused with its calm and serenity. This made his works lighter, airier, less agonized.” It is not surprising then that in the almost three months the couple spent in Gósol, Picasso produced more than 300 paintings, drawings, and sculptures with Olivier as his main model. A significant change in his style announced itself during these months, influenced in part by the spare landscape and the region’s unique colors, but also by two exhibitions he recently saw: the Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres retrospective at the 1905 Salon d’Automne, and a display of Iberian art at the Louvre from recent excavations in Andalusia.

Pablo Picasso, Nude with Folded Hands, 1906, gouache on paper, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., bequest of Mrs. Eugene McDermott, 2019.67.19.McD

A diamond pattern and the contours of a figure bleed through the thin paint of the pale pink background in Nude with Folded Hands. Only Olivier’s own ocher outlines set her apart from the nondescript, empty environment in which she is standing, giving the painting the effect of a bas-relief. The voluptuous body seems awkwardly twisted at its waist and shoulders, the head is slightly bent down, and her almond-shaped eyes are closed. In its rigidity, the face evokes Iberian art as well as a sculpture bust of Olivier, Head of a Woman, that Picasso made in the same year. Standing in front of her beholder, she is timidly folding her hands; however, her modesty is a false one, her hands revealing more than they hide, guiding the viewers gaze. Olivier often posed in the nude for Picasso, and while the young artist frequently made small drawings and caricatures of his sexual escapades, the studies and paintings of Olivier from 1906 stand out through their intimate eroticism, absent in his earlier works and in the following years.

Pablo Picasso, Bust, 1907-08, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Joshua L. Logan, Loula D. Lasker, Ruth and Nathan Cummings Art Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Edward S. Marcus, Sarah Dorsey Hudson, Mrs. Alfred L. Bromberg, Henry Jacobus and an anonymous donor, by exchange, 1987.399.FA,
© Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Bust, probably painted in the winter of 1907-08, looks fundamentally different than Nude with Folded Hands⁠—and much had happened in the meantime. In spring or summer 1907, he visited the indigenous art and culture collection at the Musée du Trocadéro in Paris, which was dusty and deserted, but opened Picasso’s eyes to a new influence: art from outside the Western canon, originating from European colonies in Africa and Oceania; this led him to finish his monumental painting Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907, MoMA). Finally, at the Salon d’Automne, he saw the retrospective dedicated to Paul Cézanne. These exhibitions had a great influence on Picasso’s artistic development and his quest for an escape from the confines of illusionistic art, established during the Renaissance. Picasso further explored the pictorial means of simplification; the muscular woman in Bust, lifting her arms above her head and pulling her hair into a bun, is reduced to outlines and shading that is achieved through isolated application of color and expressive brushstrokes, rather than the traditional method of gradients from white to black. Her face, devoid of emotion, echoes the masks he saw at the Trocadéro, which might have looked like the Je face mask from the Yaure peoples.

Je face mask, Yaure peoples, about 1930-52, wood and pigment, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., 2018.7.McD

The fragmented body is reduced to basic geometric shapes, with their contours opening so that the background and the foreground merged, like Picasso had observed in Cézanne’s work.

Paul Cézanne, The Rooftops, about 1898, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., bequest of Mrs. Eugene McDermott, 2019.67.6.McD

Despite being celebrated as an inventor, Picasso never worked in an artistic vacuum. Trying to find a new language from 1906 onward, he was especially perceptible to influences from outside the traditional Western canon, which makes these works compelling, even for the present-day beholder.

Christine Burger is the Research Assistant for European Art at the DMA.

What Our Staff Is Viewing

Last week, DMA staff got a chance to preview our newest special exhibition, Mind’s Eye: Masterworks on Paper from David to Cézanne, with co-curators Olivier Meslay and Bill Jordan. Because of their delicate nature, many of these works on paper by Delacroix, Degas, Cézanne, van Gogh, Manet, Schiele, Mondrian, Picasso, and more than sixty others are rarely on view. We’re open all week—including July 4—so stop by for what may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see them.




EP-41_06_21_2014_AG_035 EP-41_06_21_2014_AG_036

Photography by Adam Gingrich, DMA Digital Media Specialist.


Artist Astrology: Scorpio

There must be something in the water, LITERALLY, since many of the most recognized artists of the 19th and 20th century are born under the sign of the Scorpio–whose zodiac element also happens to be water! The birthdays of Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Roy Lichtenstein, and Georgia O’Keefe, just to name a few, all fall between October 24 and November 23. So what is it exactly that makes these Scorpios so artistically inclined?

Scorpios are considered one of the most fierce and determined zodiac symbols. Their strength and independence commands attention and they are known to possess the ability to manipulate and hypnotize. The intensity of the Scorpio spirit is often misunderstood as insincerity, but beneath their cool exterior their emotional side runs deep. In relationships, Scorpios set high expectations of themselves and expect the same commitment in return. This loyalty and passion carries into all aspects of their lives and, at times, their desire for perfection can make them obsessive, demanding, and obstinate. While these characteristics might deter others, Scorpio’s thrive on a challenge and will see a task through no matter the obstacles–often to great success. Scorpio’s live life to the extreme and banality is never an option!

Using this description as a guide, it is no wonder that these savvy Scorpios developed and practiced a style all their own! Backed by their passion and determination, they explored new mediums, scientific developments, styles of representation, and ideas.


Pablo Picasso – October 25

Because of Pablo Picasso’s innovations and contributions to the history of art, he has become one of the most recognizable artists in the world. This status is not unjustified as his work truly defined an era, changing art and artistry forever. Together, Picasso and Georges Braque developed Cubism, a style that radically re-structured the practice of painting. In both his life and his work, Picasso exhibited many of the signature traits of a Scorpio: he was intellectually rigorous, indulgent (both personally and artistically), and often obsessive. Later in life, this obsession manifested into a superstition in which he believed he could prolong death through artistic production. The all-knowing eyes of The Guitarist, above, also has connotations with Scorpio astrology. Eyes are a Scorpio’s most powerful physical trait and have been said to have the ability to hypnotize. This characteristic was not missed by Picasso, whose friend stated that he observed “the eyes of the canvases, by the way they had of staring into ours from deep inside those painted heads…never ceased asking us questions…We would look at the canvases straight in the eyes.”

1974_23_1 1974_23_3

Roy Lichtenstein – October 27

Roy Lichtenstein’s Bull Heads series directly challenges and satirizes the art historical practice of Cubism. The emblem of Pablo Picasso’s Spanish roots–the bull–becomes increasingly unrecognizable as the prints progress into further simplified geometric shapes. Lichtenstein frequently consulted art historical tradition to inform and direct his works. He is largely recognized for his appropriation of the style and content of comic strips, a focus that again derived from his interest in how subject matter is not only depicted, but digested. This acuity reveals Lichtenstein’s interest in the past as a vehicle to explore new ideas and concepts.


Auguste Rodin – November 12

Rodin realized his passion for art at a young age, and his talent was highly regarded during his adolescent years. He faced a humiliating defeat, however, when he was declined admission to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts three consecutive times. In order to make a living, Rodin worked for 20 years as a craftsmen and ornamenter. Throughout this time, he remained determined to further develop his passions and talents, attending classes, shadowing artists, and renting small studios in order to produce large figures. Now hailed for the materiality and dignity of his works, Rodin’s Scorpio characteristics of self-determination, willfulness, and originality pushed him to overcome obstacles and become one of the most recognizable and popular sculptors of the modern era.


Georgia O’Keeffe – November 15

Georgia O’Keeffe is not only hailed for her work as an artist but also for her feminist and self-reliant character. O’Keeffe unapologetically pursued her artwork and her life as she pleased. She is quoted to have said, “I have but one desire as a painter:  that is to paint what I see, as I see it, in my own way, without regard for the desires or taste of the professional dealer or the professional collector.” O’Keeffe’s vision is evidenced in her abstracted, yet acutely attentive representations of singular elements, such as her iconic paintings of flowers and desert-bleached skulls. She depicted her unique worldview in paintings of both natural and urban landscapes.

Here's where we will stay, 1995, JH1995-016

Jim Hodges – November 19

The work of Jim Hodges exemplifies the passion and loyalty of the Scorpio spirit. Our current exhibition, Jim Hodges: Give More Than You Take, speaks to Hodges’ commitment and generosity as an artist, a friend, a son, and a partner. Most of the works in the exhibition make direct or indirect reference to his interactions with loved ones, including Here’s where we will stay. This piece alludes to Jim’s mother and great-grandmother, who taught him how to sew and cultivated his understanding and patience for craft arts. Jim sewed each of the scarves together by hand, purposefully elongating the experience to allow time for meditation and reflection.

For more splendid Scorpios, check out the work of Johannes Vermeer (October 31), Robert Mapplethorpe (November 4), Paul Signac (November 11), Claude Monet (November 14), and Rene Magritte (November 22)! And don’t forget to tune in next month for some of our favorite Sagittarius artists!

Artworks Shown:

  • Pablo Picasso, The Guitarist, 1965, Dallas Museum of Art, The Art Museum League Fund
  • Roy Lichtenstein, Bull Heads I, 1973, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of The 500, Inc.
  • Roy Lichtenstein, Bull Heads III, 1973, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of The 500, Inc.
  • Auguste Rodin, The Shade, or Adam from “The Gates of Hell”, 1880, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Eugene McDermott
  • Georgia O’Keeffe, Grey Blue & Black—Pink Circle, 1929, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of The Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation
  • Jim Hodges, Here’s where we will stay, 1995

Hayley Prihoda
McDermott Intern for Gallery and Community Teaching


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