• gerard van weyenbergh

Why Picasso is still fascinating us.


He alone embodies modern art, has become the most famous artist in the world, and holds the absolute record for auctions. The giant Picasso (1881–1973) has been at the forefront of the cultural scene for almost a century. The mere mention of his name is enough to attract crowds, his works make the glory of museums around the world (eight of them are exclusively dedicated to him), and he is an inexhaustible source of inspiration for the younger generations. His unstructured figures are displayed on the last dress of the singer Lady Gaga while, recovered by marketing operations, Picasso even became a car brand!

More seriously, Picasso continues to be the subject of original studies. 2017 was showing an impressive list of events, with not an exhibition but entire seasons celebrating his multifaceted and infinite genius. Up to disgust? No! The maestro still attracts the public like a magnet, even if we sometimes touch the overdose. But why doesn't the phenomenon run out of steam? Why do we always come back to him? What makes it so fascinating? with not an exhibition but entire seasons celebrating his multifaceted and infinite genius.

There is, of course, what we can hardly describe in words, the emotion emanating from his works, the impulses they awaken in us, this mixture of anger, laughter, desire, joy, and sadness. Then there are a number of more tangible elements that help to understand "Picassian" madness. First, his obvious talent, so precocious - his first work, when he was only a child, silenced all those who laughed at his inability to really know how to draw.

Suffering from an intense creative fever that has almost never left him, Picasso has always managed to surprise, often disconcerting, even shock, his contemporaries. Unclassifiable, unpredictable, he is capable of going from a melancholic blue period to revolutionary cubism, and launching the kick-off of the avant-garde of the XXth century, before making a return to an Ingresque classicism. Finally, destructuring the figure in surreal forms bursting with color.

"When I was a child, my mother used to say to me:" If you become a soldier, you will be a general. If you become a monk, you will end up pope. I wanted to be a painter, and I became Picasso! "

Prolific and fiery creator, with insatiable curiosity, he did not stop occupying the first place during his long career, leaving his comrades in the shade. He ventured into all fields of art (or almost), becoming a painter, sculptor, engraver, designer, ceramist, goldsmith, but also poet and playwright with two plays to his credit, without forgetting his collaboration with choreographers and musicians for various ballets. A total, whole artist, in love with freedom, who with each new experience seeks to push the limits, to break the borders, giving the impression of bending only to his desires. Impossible to follow, the Minotaur rushes straight ahead without ever turning around or doubting his talent. His shattering quotes are always at the height of the image of power and life that he gives off: "Real pictures if you approach a mirror, it should be covered with mist, living breath because they breathe. Picasso knew how to play with his image, offering photographers Doisneau, Capa, or Brassaï his brilliant figure, that malicious look that his friend Eluard compared to "an arrow or a burst of embers". A real character from a novel. Film too. The filmmakers were not mistaken, Clouzot, author of Mystère Picasso (1955), award-winning documentary in Cannes and Venice, to Orson Welles, citing him in his film Vérités et mensonges ( F for Fake ) in 1973, via Godard or Truffaut, which show his works in their mythical Pierrot le fou and Jules and Jim .

Aware of the importance of its image, Picasso was also endowed with a keen business sense, which he never hid. "It was safe from my success that I was able to do what I wanted, everything I wanted," he said. A success assured to him by his loyal merchants: the daring Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler supported him from the start, and the ambitious Paul Rosenberg made him known in the 1930s across the Atlantic to collectors and curators of museums such as MoMA. From Europe and the United States, Picasso conquers the world, and from the 1950s, the Far East opened its doors to him. Picasso is everywhere. He is everything. Star of the art market, rebellious genius and bohemian at heart, father of modern art, inventor of a new beauty, he is also a public man, a figure of freedom and peace since he painted Guernica (1937). Directed in the aftermath of the bombing of the Basque city on April 26, the painting summarizes in one image the absolute horror of the war.

Follow the Suppliante, reference to the bombing of Lérida, and the Mass grave , which he presented in 1946 at the opening of the exhibition "Art and resistance" at the Palais de Tokyo.

Colombe was chosen in 1949 by Louis Aragon for the poster of the Peace Congress organized by the Communist Party. Picasso joined (in 1944) the political party like many French intellectuals. Colombe toured the world and immortalized Picasso as an emblematic artist of this tragic century. So much so that at his death, the art historian André Chastel summed up his career in a few well-felt words: "He had, like Louis XIV, one of the longest reigns in history. Forty years later, he is still at the top of the artworld. Daphne Betard for Beaux Arts