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Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907) - Pablo Picasso

Related: African art - 1907 - cubism - modern art - prostitution in art - Pablo Picasso - greatness

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907) - Pablo Picasso [Image link]
Typically for modern art, Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (which depicts five prostitutes in a brothel) sacrificed traditional notions of beauty and harmony in favor of dissonance, ugliness and grotesque ambivalence. The work was heavily inspired by African masks.


Les Demoiselles d'Avignon is a celebrated painting by Pablo Picasso that depicts five prostitutes in a brothel. Picasso painted it in France, and completed it in the summer of 1907. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Demoiselles_d%27Avignon [Jan 2006]

Influences of African art

Picasso was visiting Gertrude Stein at her Paris apartment in the spring of 1907 when Henri Matisse stopped by with an African sculpture he had just purchased. According to Matisse, the two artists were enthralled by its depiction of a human figure. Soon afterwards, Picasso went to the Trocadero Museum of Ethnology (now the Musée de l'Homme) with another artist friend, André Derain. That visit, Picasso later claimed, was pivotal to his art. --http://arts.guardian.co.uk/features/story/0,,1730945,00.html [Mar 2006]

African influenced period of Pablo Picasso
African influenced period of Pablo Picasso, which followed his Blue Period and Rose Period. This period has also occasionally been called the Negro Period or Black Period.

Between 1907 and 1909 Picasso painted in a style which was strongly influenced by African sculpture. After painting Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, Picasso began painting in a style influenced by the two figures on the right side of the painting, which were based on African art. Although the painting is seen as the first Cubist work, before beginning the Cubist phase of his painting, he spent several years exploring African art. During this time the French empire was expanding into Africa, and African artefacts were being brought back to Paris museums. The press was abuzz with exaggerated stories of cannibalism and exotic tales about the African kingdom of Dahomey. Also talked about was the mistreatment of Africans in the Belgian Congo with Joseph Conrad's popular book Heart of Darkness. It was natural therefore in this climate of African interest that Picasso would look towards African artefacts as inspiration for some of his work.

Picasso's African influenced period was followed with the style known as Analytic Cubism, which had also developed from Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pablo_Picasso/African [Mar 2006]

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