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At the Musee Picasso, Part II


The Musee Picasso in Paris displays many drawings and works on paper, including sketchbooks from about the time he was working on the Demoiselles d'Avignon, that is 1907. The pencil drawing, above, looks like it might be of the peasant Fontedevila, whom Picasso used as a model when he and Fernande Olivier stayed at Gosol, a Pyrennean village, in 1906. In all of the drawings at this time, we can see how Picasso was striving obsessively to simplify the figure into geometric shapes, in an attempt to synthesize what he saw in African sculptures and in Cezanne's painting "Bathers."


When we are now so used to this way of depicting the human figure. when this work by Picasso has been overtaken by so many cycles of art, we find it difficult to imagine how ground-breaking this was back in the early 1900s. Picasso himself was unsure of what he was doing, and he certainly received little encouragement from dealers, who wanted him to stick with the sentimental paintings of the Blue Period.


I really like the way Picasso used his sketchbook on these pages (above), overlaying pencil drawings with ink drawings, then drawing over those with a heavier purple ink. That herringbone pattern seems to be a flower shape, perhaps. Certainly something that represents a complete contrast to the problem of the figure that he was working out at the same time.

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