Wednesday, February 28, 2024

How did anarchism influence Picasso and the creation of cubism?

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Great artists have the same mathematical characteristic as infinity: they are endless. They have a certain tendency to mutability and, instead of exhausting themselves, each era launches a different reading on the scope of his figure and the echo of his work.

Picasso has as many dimensions as cubism: he is a character built on a succession of planes and edges. A parallelepiped figure that changes as the gazes fall on its surface. In the era of MeToo and political correctness, when private lives begin to be examined under the sign of public light and the new exemplarity has become an inexcusable condition for any person, the artist, who is at the gates of his year, 2023, when the 50th anniversary of his death will be celebratedWith a long concatenation of exhibitions, it is being revisited from multiple perspectives and its behavior, subjected to a meticulous and prolific exegesis. In other words, Picasso is on an artists’ ITV to see if he passes the requisite exam that our time demands.

The Sofía Queen Museum, which preserves one of its most emblematic pieces, the “Guernica”, has joined in examining his biography with a series of presentations that delves into the artist’s early years and addresses issues that had been left aside or not. enough attention had been paid. In this incipient Picasso and expectant of fame, apparently, some veins had remained unexplored and now a series of historians have entered these paths. Under the title «Picasso from cultural studies. Dream and lie of Spain (1898-1922)”, which will host 14 conferences, 4 round tablesand the projection of a documentary, several experts analyze the aspects that helped him define his artistic style. Among the guests are Abigail Solomon-Godeau, Rafael Jackson-Martín, Eloy Martín, Julia Mirabal, Dolors Marín, Chris Ealham and Julia Ramírez-Blanco.

Aesthetics and politics

Anarchism, a political current in principle collateral, is one of the aspects that will be addressed. Picasso was a communist, but during his stay in Barcelona and his visits to Madrid he was in contact with circles and magazines linked to this ideology. Although he never participated in his messages, he did notice his ideas and his ideas could play a role in his artistic evolution. «There is even speculation about his relationship with Tragic Week.Anarchism does not operate in it as a militancy, but it does support the aspiration to destroy a central Western idea: the notion of painting and to create a new painting with a different code. Anarchism believes that society must be remade to create a new order and thus reach a new life and this remains in Picasso.He does the linguistic work of destroying the visual order, the painting as a window, the perspective, the three dimensions, the trompe l’oeil, creating a new code that is cubism. There are already new readings about how Picasso reached this conclusion through his connection with anarchism, which is an anarchist reading of Western art,” says Chema González, program coordinator for the Museo Reina Sofía. He himself assures that there is more: «The first cubism of Picasso and Braque is like a particular code that can only be read between equals, between artists. This is a horizontal, universal language. Actually, we can perceive how Picasso is capable of transferring this political language of anarchism to the field of aesthetics».

The Reina Sofía, from these conferences, vindicates the Spanishness that always remained in Picasso and how it was not alien to 98, the disaster of Annual, the corruption scandals and the meditation of what Spain was, a current debate at the time . The influence exerted by Iberian art does not come from its primitivism, which is the usual interpretation, but from the metaphor that its culture supposes, the claim of a world older than Rome, enclosed in its peninsular identity, detached from the Atlanticism coming from the discovery of America and the empire.

A nation built around itself. This takes root in the artist before the emergence of cubism, in 1906 and 1907, just a few years after the loss of Cuba. But there is more. «What we have wanted to highlight is that Spanishness that always remains in his genius. It is a symptom that he participates in this changing Spain. His relationship with the country is tumultuous, startling. This is important and is one of the things that must be counted. We deny this idea of ​​a foreign Picasso with allusions to the Spanish. This is a purely Spanish Picasso, who manifests himself in his country », says Chema González.

Cuba and Morocco

This is not an artist with allusions only to popular culture, to bullfights, to folk music, to the painting of Velázquez, El Greco or Goya, who left so many reflections in his painting. In Picasso the last wounds of history live, the urgent transformations of the country beat. «The so-called «Picasso report», which gave an account of what had happened in Annual, was written by Juan, his great-uncle, so she knew the situation in Morocco well, something that would help to develop some positions of the painter». 

The last colonies were also present in this restless Picasso. «There is always talk of his relationship with African art in his career at the beginning of the 20th century. It is understood that it is the art of sub-Saharan Africa, but it may be that he was in contact with another blackness through his family, which comes from the Cuban part, that is, from Caribbean Africa. His maternal grandfather abandoned his family, with four daughters, including Picasso’s mother, and founded a new family there with an Afro-Cuban woman, a former freedwoman, with whom he had four children. 

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