.. as very aware that people look at objects and capture the image in their minds from many different perspectives. The object?s important qualities then melt together in a single memory. Many visual perspectives become one perspective of the mind. Cezanne influenced Picasso heavily in this sort of thought. Cezanne once said ?I think of art as personal apperception.
I place this perception in sensation , and I require that the intelligence organize it into a work or art.?10 Cezanne is speaking of perceiving an object or scene in ones mind , then using your memories and logic to paint what you saw. Unfortunately Cezanne knew that he had not achieved what he preached , although he did recognize that he was onto some new kind of art. Picasso manifested Cezanne?s theories in Les Demoiselles d?Avignon. He did it by skipping the whole painting with logic. Tradition lies within logic. Picasso defied logic in many instances in Les Demoiselles d?Avignon.
An example of this occurs in the bottom right hand corner of the painting. Picasso defies logic and gives us a full frontal view of the figures face with a full view of the her back. This is obviously a perspective that the human eye cannot see. If we are staring at someone’s back , then their entire face cannot be viewed as it is in Les Demoiselles d?Avignon. Another distortion occurs in the painting of the women on the far right.
She is painted as if viewed from a side profile , yet we can see her entire eye. This Egyptian like side profile with a full view of the eye is also a physical impossibility. The unnatural appearance of the women is not the only way in which Picasso twists perspective. Picasso used unrelated shapes to create multiple planes throughout the painting. The shapes fill up empty space in the background and confuses our sense of depth. All elements in the painting seem to be forced together.
One cannot perceive how far away the blue curtain is from the two women in the middle. This aspect enhances the confrontational nature of the painting. The lack of depth seems to push horrible women right towards you. He also creates uncertainty of the visual senses. When uncertainty occurs in any of our senses, a sort of panic sets in.
Picasso creates panic. The viewer cannot tell if the terrible women are very close or very far. It almost looks as if the figures are close enough to reach out and grab someone , yet Picasso does not allow us to visually check this. The uncertainty of space was a totally new feeling for paintings. In older paintings, even the most horrible subjects seemed to be at least stuck within the painting. For example , James Ensor?s Intrigue , is much more menacing then Les Demoiselles d?Avignon , yet the viewer can at least come to grips with the closeness of the masked faces.
Ensor confirms that we must deal with these people through the use of Linear perspective.11 Les Demoiselles d?Avignon provides the viewer with no idea of how to orient him or herself. This new arrangement of space in Les Demoiselles d?Avignon would eventually be thought of as the beginnings of cubism. Although the heavy distortion in perception is unnerving, the distortion of the female nude violated a much more sacred aspect of painting. Picasso restructured the female nude into harsh angular planes with strange faces. Gone were the typical curvy lines and soft features of the female body.
Picasso painted three different kinds of women , which he then grouped by similar faces. The faces are very violent and disturbing. Essentially the faces are like masks from two different cultures. The two women in the middle received much influence from Iberian sculpture. They both have bulging oval eyes , strong eyebrows , large ears , and very heavy jaws.
These features were essential characteristics of Iberian sculpture. Picasso received Iberian influence from two Iberian limestone heads that he bought in March of 1907. He acquired the heads from a thief that his friend Appolinaire knew. Previous to Picasso , the heads belonged to the Louvre. Picasso never returned the sculptures on the grounds that the Louvre had stolen them from the Spanish people.12 The women on the far left resembles an Egyptian style of painting. The body is seen from the side profile , but the eye is depicted on the side of the head just as the Egyptians did.
There is also a slight African mask reference in the shape of the nose. It is very wedge like and angular , just like the masks of the women on the far right. The body however , does not represent the Egyptian style. It is much to chunky and distorted. African is much more heavy in the masks of the women on the right side of the painting. There is very much debate on when Picasso first came in contact with African art. Picasso himself claims that he knew nothing of African art while painting Les Demoiselles d?Avignon.
His friends say other wise. Most of his friends believe he first came in contact with African art when he met Matisse in 1906. Matisse was known to have a collection of African art in his studio.13 Picasso?s claim that he never saw any of the collection seems a bit far fetched. There is also another account of Picasso?s first visit to the Ethnographical Museum at the Trocadaro. He was extremely influenced and completely captivated by the African masks and the power that they had.14 The influence of the masks on the two women on the right is very obviously from this experience. Both masks share the same African facial features.
They both have long wedge noses and small rounded mouths. The upper mask is also missing ears , which was typical of African masks. Overall the masks do not represent anything in particular. Their ethnic qualities just happened to be of interest to Picasso at the time of Les Demoiselles d?Avignon. He was simply experimenting with different techniques.
This does not mean that they are not important to the painting. They are the final touch on the horrible distortions of Les Demoiselles d?Avignon All of the aspects above created the most radical rethinking of painting since linear perspective was invented. Les Demoiselles d?Avignon shows us more then we can see. The viewer is frozen in the shapes and lines that normally would give him or her some breathing room. Picasso eliminated the thought process that older paintings forced the viewer to go through.
Our thoughts are already on the canvas. Picasso tapped into our memories and presented them before we can think of them. He think distorts them heavily. This is why the painting is so moving. He takes our thoughts and everything that is natural and normal and imposes his twisted view on them.
Our ever familiar visual perspective that governs our sight is dismantled leaving us unable to find our way out of the painting. The familiar figure of our bodies is mangled and unfamiliar. I consider this painting to be an assault. He assaults our confidence in what we think we know. After viewing the African masks in the Trocadero, Picasso is quoted as saying ?They were against everything-against unknown , threatening spirits…I understood ; I to am against everything.
I to believe that everything is unknown , that everything is an enemy!…the fetishes were weapons. To help people avoid coming under the influence of spirits again , to help them become independent…..I understood why I was a painter…Les Demoiselles d?Avignon must have come to me that very day , but not at all because of the forms ; because it was my first exorcism painting-yes absolutely!? 15 Picasso used Les Demoiselles d?Avignon to free himself from what the world had told him was absolute. Les Demoiselles d?Avignon mocks and teases the faith that people put into their ignorance of the unknown. Picasso?s Les Demoiselles d?Avignon continues to challenge a shake people to this day. Bibliography John Richardson , A Life of Picasso volume 2 1907-1917 (New York : Random House Press 1996) 15.
Arriana S. Huffington , Picasso:Creator and Destroyer . (New York : Simon and Schulster , 1988) 89. Marie-Laurie Berndac and Bouchet , Picasso: Master of the New Idea . (New York , Abrams , 19 Kirk Varnedoe , Response to Les Demoiselles d?Avignon. (http://www.moma.org/docs/collection/paintsculpt/c 40.htm , 1997) George H. Hamilton , Painting and Sculpture in Europe 1800-1940 . (New Haven : Yale U.
Press 1993) 46-47 Arts Essays.