Dreams of Desire 68 (Les Demoiselles d’Avignon)

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Les Demoiselles d'Avignon-Picasso 1907 Les Demoiselles d’Avignon-Picasso 1907

The first truly Modernist painting (though change had been in the air for some time), the radical break constituted by Pablo Picasso 1907’s study of a Barcelona brothel, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, led to Cubism and sharply divided critics.

Never before or after did Picasso spend so long on one painting as Les Demoiselles, drawing hundreds of preparatory sketches over a period of nine months. The innovation doesn’t lie with the content; the courtesan had long been a covert subject of Western Art before being explicitly identified as a prostitute by Edouard Manet’s Olympia, to becoming somewhat of a Bohemian cliche by the time of  Toulouse-Lautrec in the 1890’s. Picasso’s claim to blazing, revolutionary originality lie in the form. First of all he throws  five hundred years of accepted practise out of the window by abolishing perspective, then instead of the traditional curves we…

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