A Critical Analysis of Pablo Picasso’s 1907 LesDemoiselles d’Avignon,
Dim:(96 in × 92 in)
Modern art is a term that describes artistic works that were producedbetween the periods of 1860 and 1970. The Modern artists experimentedwith art often exploring newer ideas and functions of art. Suchartists included Paul Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh, and Paul Gauguin.One of these artists is Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), a Spanish painterand sculptor. Among all the works presented by Picasso, his 1907painting with the name Les Demoiselles d’Avignon has notonly been crucial in his career as a contemporary artist but has alsobeen one of the most debated pieces of works in its interpretationand form. Seemingly, this art might be an influence from Picasso’sexperiences with anthropology as well as his psychological condition.The piece of art was initially titled Le Bordel d’Avignonbut was later changed to Les Demoiselles d’Avignon toconceal any scandalous eventualities (Schneider 82). Following hisuse of a blue period and a more jovial rose period, many of hiscritics were left wondering because of his new form of art. Thispaper is therefore going to analyze Picasso’s piece of art indetail and determine whether his message was well communicated.
Beginning with the facts in the picture, the painting has fivefemales who are naked. All the women are mature and fully grown asseen from their exposed breasts. Four of them are standing while oneis sited on what appears to be a stool. The place looks like a roomwhich is enclosed with a curtain at the entrance. One of the women inthe picture has the entrance curtain rose appearing to be coming intothe chamber or communicating to one of them. Three of the women areleaning against the wall with sheets covering their bodies partly.Two of the women on the right appear to be wearing masks due to thedark faces. A table is located in the middle of the room and containssome things on it. The room is painted brown on the inside with awhite curtain. The painting has embraced a three dimensional formhaving length, width, and depth. The piece of art is 243.9 cm ×233.7 cm (96 in × 92 in), painted using oil on a canvas medium.
The artist carefully used a direct approach emphasis placing theprimary objects in the foreground of the painting. More emphasis ison the five persons located in the painting’s foreground. Thepainting has an almost noticeable background. The raised curtainshows the wall on the other side of the room. Little focus is givento the background. The woman sitting down is closer to the painterthan all the others while the one at the entrance is the furthest.The position of each in the painting has significance in the entirepicture. Additionally, the art has used different colors to showcontrast in the different object. The women have been painted with apinkish-peach-color in contrast with their white sheets. Similarly,the curtains are painted with a whitish blue color. The contrastgives this painting a proper highlight including the formation ofshadows. The painting has the form of a three-dimensional piece ofart. Its length extends from one the end where the sited woman is tothe furthest end having a brown wall. The width covers the distancefrom the bottom to the top of the room. Its depth extends to theother side of the chamber. The artist has used some visual aids suchas the sheets, some coins and objects on the table which createinterest and curiosity to the observer.
The title of the painting is translated to The Young Ladies ofAvignon. The artist painted women who lived in Avignon. The artistcreates a primitive mood on the faces of the prostitutes. The facesof the women show a rejection of tenderness (Schneider 83). The facesare sketchily painted asymmetrically showing a dull setting. Thewomen in the painting are prostitutes in a brothel (Leja 75). Theyare in their daily work waiting for clients in their rooms. Thewomen’s state and posture show that they are in fact prostituteswaiting for customers. According to Leja, the facial primitiveness ofthe women together with the correlation to prostitution is a factorof cultural inheritance rather than a mere expression (Leja 75).Lomas suggests that the unconscious mind rather than internalstruggles in the artist might have been the driving force to thistype of painting (Lomas 429). The artist has created an impressivedesign by adjusting the different positions of each object thecontrasting colors in the painting and the spaces between the women.Consequently, the painting supports the theory of emotionalismpassing across a social idea. The grotesque nature of the paintingalso qualifies in the emotionalism category.
Picasso was a Spanish painter who had visited several brothels inSpain. This painting was created in the first decade of the 20thcentury in a western society context. During this time, aestheticconcepts of symmetries in the physical anthropologies were common andsoon infiltrated to the art industry. People in the field supported aclassical ideal body to show the superiority of the westerners. Overtime it came to represent national unity. As a result, anyone who wasagainst this form of classical form was perceived inferior. Manypeople deviated from this style but at the top of the deviance listwere criminals and prostitutes. Picasso was a frequent visitor of St.Lazare where he met many prostitutes. He might have used them in mostof his work as objects of desire or derision. Picasso might have hada concern over women in the hospital as they looked helpless,abandoned or victimized. According to Schneider, the prostitutes inPicasso’s painting seem to be the bearers of sexual banters(Schneider 84). Picasso seems to have had interconnectedness with St.Lazare hospital where he regularly visited.
In conclusion, the painting succeeded in bringing out its message.The idea of primitivism in the facial asymmetries is clearly visible.Picasso carefully plays with the traditional notion that holds womenas symbols of natural beauty. His art also goes on to challenge thewestern culture. This painting has embraced contrast and color tocompare the different objects. The witty positioning of the women inthe painting quickly reveal the context of the painting. Several cuesare captured from the three-dimensional painting. In my opinion,Picasso did an exceptional piece and most of all his determination tooverlook the expectations of society makes him an incredible artist.Over a hundred years later, this piece of art is still considered asmodern.
Leja, Michael. "‘Le Vieux Marcheur’and ‘Les Deux Risques‘: Picasso, Prostitution, Venereal Disease, And Maternity,1899–1907." Art history 8.1 (1985): 66-81.
Lomas, David. "A Canon of Deformity: Les Demoisellesd`Avignon and Physical Anthropology." ArtHistory 16.3 (1993): 424-446.
Schneider, Daniel E. "The Painting of Pablo Picasso: APsychoanalytic Study." College Art Journal 7.2(1947): 81-95.