As spring approaches I think of color and when I think of color, I think of Picasso, so I decided to confer with him and hear his responses in his own terminology.
Now I have owned one beret in my time and my big head doesn’t lend itself to such a wonderful piece of headwear, so imagine Pablo in his beret as we talk and me just freshly coiffed. Because of the heartbreak in later life and afterwards with his family, I see Pablo young and full of idealism.
When our brother, “The Faberge Egg”, aka art collector Chris Lee, truly sent his original Picasso and several other pieces from his collection for me to use in a presentation, I was beside myself with joy to see Picasso’s masterful technique up close and personal. I will be eternally thankful to Chris for that weekend.
I envision myself gazing at the great artist, having an espresso at a side walk café in Paris where it all began in a way for Picasso as well as my literary icon Hemingway.
Bon Jour. or should I say Buenos Dias to the Spaniard? He shrugs indifferently. The question I ask all great ones of their work…Is your art truly original? He shakes his head and seems amused as he speaks.
“If there is something to steal, I steal it! The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place; from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web.”
So Georges Braque, the French genius, and yourself are living in Paris and you began working on the development of a new style and you work together until the outbreak of World War I in 1914 at which time your creations are described as ‘full of little cubes’ although you did not use that term.
“When we discovered Cubism, we did not have the aim of discovering Cubism. We only wanted to express what was in us. People want to find a “meaning” in everything and everyone. That’s the disease of our age, an age that is anything but practical but believes itself to be more practical than any other age.”
I am guilty, sir. After blushing, I continue. What then constitutes success in the art world? In life?
“Success is dangerous. One begins to copy oneself, and to copy oneself is more dangerous than to copy others. It leads to sterility.”
And the stimulus comes from where exactly?
“Painting is stronger than me; it makes me do its bidding.” He looks down at his hands resting on the table. “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”
What we see creatively speaking is not what we get with you. “Real” objects seem to be reconfigured in an abstract form and from a host of viewpoints to represent if I may say a greater perception and in that new arrangement a new beauty emerges that wasn’t quite there before?
“Art is not the application of a canon of beauty but what the instinct and the brain can conceive beyond any canon. When we love a woman we don’t start measuring her limbs.”
In my own way, I try to write about the potential freedom of the human spirit in those terms, but it appears as anarchism to many people lacking order. I sense your art is like that in even greater ways than words could ever express. One picture is worth a thousand words so to speak.
“Art is never chaste. It ought to be forbidden to ignorant innocents, never allowed into contact with those not sufficiently prepared. Yes, art is dangerous. Where it is chaste, it is not art.”
Is there one phrase which captures your real personality?
“I don’t say everything, but I paint everything.”
Braque would comment on the period from 1909 to 1914 (the birth of cubism): “Picasso and I said things to one another that no one will ever say again . . . things that would be incomprehensible to others, but that gave us a great joy. It was like being roped together on a mountain . . . All that will end with us.” . . . Norman Mailer wrote of Braque and Picasso-“They are as famous as Hemingway for never talking about it . . .”
I often think of all those things that I never get to hear. But I am listening. Sometimes I stroll down to the Frist Museum and listen with my eyes, my heart, and my soul.