View Full Version : Help me appreciate Picasso...

04-08-2004, 05:34 PM
I am basically inclined towards realism in art but I would love to know what standards does one judge abstract art by???

What are the elements in picasso's paintings that make them so good and make them stand apart...

I know this may sound like a silly question but I couldn't think of a better place to put this question for I have had no formal training in art and I would love to know how to appreciate contemporary art...

I have seen some contemporary art that I thought was beautiful but what I would like to know is.. Is this a personal preference that I do not like Picasso or is there something I should look for to appreciate it... Line/color/subject etc...

I would love it if someone could show me a sample painting (preferably of Picasso becuse he is so very famous and I do not connect with his work yet) and tell me which elements are good so that I can see what others like so much and then decide for myself if I like it for those reasons or not...

I hope this post makes sense to someone...

04-08-2004, 08:19 PM
I think if you start by studying Picasso's life and work (which you can find a lot online even) You will see that Picasso had many styles...He didn't start with the cubism that you are probably associating him with - infact he produced some excellent realism. When you begin to see how much he studied and worked and how his cubism abstracts are diverse enough to be thought of in three phases of growth...and you may decide that one of those phases appeals way more to you than others...you won't need an abstract group to tell you how to appreciate his work, you will also realize that Picasso is not the generic catch-all representation of "abstract"... I am sure that once you do a bit of studying with regard to multiple abstract artists you will develop an appreciation all on your own...I can say that because I remember posing the same kind of question as you...but that was before I took the time to study and decide for myself what was up with abstract art.

I love this thought that I picked up here in WetCanvas...realism with its impressive discipline captures photo realistic life (a daunting task indeed)...abstract does that too but includes the emotion, the mood, the feeling, the gestault...essentially, that which cannot be photographed.

Okay...that is just words from a greenie...I'm prolly the least qualified person on wetcanvas to answer...but I wish someone had told me to study and learn a lot sooner - I would have been REALLY good by now!

04-08-2004, 08:55 PM
Picasso and any other artist you choose is best understood/appreciated within an art historical context. I would submit that you can't learn to appreciate brain surgery or a fine wine for that matter if you have no grounding/fundamental understanding of the general context within which these two "arts" are known, practiced and appreciated.

Get thee to a library and begin at the beginning, i.e., a general survey of the history of art. Janson's The History of Art is a good general/overview start.

04-08-2004, 08:59 PM
Appreciation normally ensues understanding. :)

Well said, Michael Ann and Molly.

04-09-2004, 07:10 AM
Thanx for the replies guys! :)

Yes I guess I like the elements that cannot be photographed is what I have liked in the abstract art that I have seen...

I would love to develop the understanding but isn't art history boring? I mean I haven't personally had a look but to me it seems that it is a subject one studies in college just for the heck of it.... But I would love it if someone knows a better way of studying art history for I understand that I need to get at least a basic understanding if the various styles and stuff but I don't know how to go about it...

I will have a look at the book you suggested though if I can find it...

Thanks again for taking out the time to answer such a newbie type query but these seemingly small things are what take you or motivate you to go the long way... :)

just dave
04-09-2004, 01:46 PM
Picasso was a Post-Impressionist. This movement did not relate to Impressionism in terms of technique; many styles emerged in the period.

All of Western painting from Giotto in the Middle Ages through Impressionism had the goal of of representing reality. Post-Impressionism began Modern Art's goal of making statements about reality.

Take a look at one of Van Gogh's self-portraits. He is not trying to represent the reality of how he appears; he is using the colors and brushwork to say something about himself; about his reality, about his journey of life in this world. He is not being "abstract," as I define the term.

Now look at Picasso's "Guernica."


He painting this to show the horrors of war; specifically the bombing of that city during the Spanish Civil War. A photorealistic painting in the neoclassical style, or even an impressionistic painting showing the 'atmospheric' qualities of the incident's results, could not have gone beyond what one could see.

For example, take the image of the woman screaming because her baby is dead. That scene is more horrific because of the exaggeration of the emotions.

I agree with another post that it is hard to appreciate art without understanding the background of the time period, the artist, and the artwork itself. You might be able to appreciate some small slice of some visual artworks without doing so, but I have gained so much more enjoyment from the arts by taking an art appreciation class and a humanities class, and from a number of "gallery talks" at several DC area art museums.

04-09-2004, 02:27 PM
I would love to develop the understanding but isn't art history boring? I mean I haven't personally had a look but to me it seems that it is a subject one studies in college just for the heck of it....

whew! I'm sorry you let your assumptions get in the way of an incredible adventure into history- which incidentally is a part of you whether you learn about it or not.

When I think of art history, it is the story of individuals and their reactions to their society. It is sociology, phsychology, science, math, and history all wrapped up in one, not to mention the great writings created by artists about their work. It is an intimate portrayal of a person's desire to communicate and reach out to others, the artists of the past have left an immutable record of what it means to be human throughout the ages, and it all still affects me so much that I feel connected to all those who came before.

these people opened and revealed thier souls through creation, cut through the banal necessities of life to celebrate what's worth recording, what's meaningful, to pass their revelations on to others. It is an individual pursuit ... but it resonates to all those who see it, regardless of their reaction.

I have read literally hundreds of books about artists, their work and their lives, not for a grade, but for the edification of my soul, and have been rewarded with a gift for understanding where I come from, where society comes from, and a personal look into what it meant to live in each of those times.

Call me Carravagio, call me Latour, call me Corot, Manet, van Gogh, Schiele, Kahlo, and so many more. Their lives have touched me, I am changed by their determination, joy and anguish. I am ennobled to do my best, by knowing what they sacrificed and gained by doing theirs.

Heinlein said "a generation which ignores history has no past- and no future."

my mom said "if you are bored, you have no one to blame but yourself, the world is miraculous."

I believe, remember and honor each of them with every book, painting and day.

ps It is Picasso who changed my artistic life, I began with a distaste for him, but learning his life and coming to understand his work was a revelation to me. I won't say how, because it's mine, and your path will be wholly different, but if you choose to journey, and share it, that will be an honor to me to see.

dig in, it's your ancestory as an artist ... all not just Picasso :D

04-09-2004, 03:37 PM
Carravagio, how dreamy (i luv u j)
for a long time i wouldnt look at others art
because i wanted to find my own voice
without others seeping in
but paintings are so lovely
and some artists you cant help but fall in love with

picasso doesnt tickle me right
boring art history only comes from boring art i think
or boring writers
with boring stories
a lot of basic art history can be consumed
through biography type books
its easier to chew

a neat book i just got is called The Art Book
published by Phaidon
its a small book, 5inches tall
"an A to Z guide of 500 great painters
and sculpters from medieval to modern times"
each page has an artwork and short bio of the artist
the back has a glossery of technical terms and art movements
and a directory of museums and galleries
a wonderful information filled tinything
its a good place to start for an overall toe dip into art history

04-09-2004, 04:32 PM
Thanx Dave... THe example with the mother and the baby is exactly what I needed to see... I will look at more things and try and spot the elements that I like and also get some other info on the artists...not just picasso...

Thanx Jnet for showing me a nicer side to history... I am looking forward to digging into something now... :)

Thanx heh... I will look for a small book to start with and even I didn't look at others art for a while but then I thought if I had to find my own voice like you say I have to not imitate but at least try and see a visual expression of the kind of things I like so that I could easily go ahead and do what I liked best... :) hope that makes sense...

04-09-2004, 04:36 PM
Picasso was great because nobody had seen anything like that before-- invention a new style in important in art-- It lets you see things in a new way. I don't like Picasso that much because I think he did too much of the same thing--

Now the big thing seems to be concept: and that's fine with me I'm a fan of conceptual art work.