Making love and making art
I have an old black and white photograph of Pablo Picasso dressed in nothing but a pair of wrinkled shorts, dancing, in what looks like his studio, laughing and joyous. His right arm is cocked at a jaunty angle, his eyes stare down at a gorgeous mosaic tile floor.
In the picture, there is also a huge mural behind him that today would be worth about a kazillion dollars.
He is barefoot and stepping into the next graceful move. He is probably in his 80s by this time, bald, his skin as wrinkled as his shorts, but his eyes as bright and shiny as ever.
From 1949 until he died in 1973, Pablo Picasso was considered kind of a washed-up old perv without anything important to add to art or anything else. His “early work” was still of some value, but not many people seemed to understand his philosophy of art that included the idea, “It took me my whole life to learn to draw, once again, like a child.”
Before 1949 his work had been considered revolutionary; his Guernica was and is considered a masterpiece of anti-fascist passion. His approach to painting and drawing had changed and aged along with him, from near photorealism in his “Blue period” to “If it has a beard, it’s a man; if not, it’s a woman.”
But after 1949 his lifestyle and conduct and the directions he took his art had stopped being recognized as very important or valuable, at least not AS valuable. His “reputation” had hurt him. So from 1949 to 1973. For the most part, we could say that he was a bit out of the game.
After he died in 1973, however, and even in the final few years of his life, he began to be reconsidered. Funny how death can refocus our interest (but I digress).
People realized that the work he was doing then and had done all along was a precursor, a driving force, in helping move art from impressionism to expressionism. Whole worlds of art would never have existed if Picasso had not led the way and blown open the doors that hid those possibilities.
At my age, 72, I have a personal view of this entire subject of an artist aging. I suspect people put Picasso down, in part, because he was older and then old.
It was a straight-up ageist attack, born out of the critics’ fears of aging and getting old and becoming irrelevant and terrified of dying themselves.
I’m pretty sure Picasso didn’t mind or notice much,
He was far too busy still working, and creating beauty, and studying the world.
Oh yeah, and dancing, dancing, always laughing, full of joy, and dancing.