Picasso, the Great Realist?

THE DAILY PIC: In a work as stylized as any, the Spaniard keeps one detail real.


THE DAILY PIC (#1402, Picasso Edition): Our week’s penultimate Picasso Pic is all about his unlikely ambitions in realism.

The piece, from 1935, has come to be titled Woman Carrying a Vessel, and of course it comes from the “Picasso Sculpture” show at MoMA in New York. Like several similar works made of scrap wood and odds and ends, it shows how much more lively a Picasso assemblage can seem before it gets cast in bronze. You can almost feel him gathering its scattered parts then finding ways to make them cohere. His similar bronzes always feel just one step closer to fancy blobs for the mantelpiece.

But none of that is what makes this piece worthy of being Pic’d. Unfortunately, I don’t have a close-up that will show precisely what stopped me in my tracks, so I’ll have to let readers imagine it into the detail below: You can’t see it in the shot, but Picasso went to the absurd length of half-filling the figure’s tiny bronze-colored pot with some kind of solid, to make his water carrier looks like she’s actually carrying water. And then Picasso went one absurd step further: Although the pot is slightly tilted, the surface of its “water” is kept parallel to the floor, aping the way real liquids always find their level.

Picasso often claimed that, for all his wild modern stylizations, his real dedication was to the great realist tradition. He sets out to prove it with this one tiny detail in his otherwise unlifelike statue. (Musee national Picasso-Paris, dation Pablo Picasso; © 2015 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York)


For a full survey of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.

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