I am a sucker for idiot’s guides to areas I have little or no grasp on, and while I’d read somewhere about cubism being derived from an attempt to represent many rather than just one perspective, having that idea visualised for me makes a big difference.
Don’t make the mistake though of thinking this is a demonstration of how to copy one of Picasso’s pieces of work, it isn’t, it’s the equivalent of a singer/songwriter using Bob Marley’s riffs and rhythms in a new song, rather than someone you never heard of covering ‘No Woman, No Cry’. The art work evolves as you watch and the process is made explicit by the artist.
I found this very easy to grasp. It makes cubism more transparent as a concept so that it becomes more accessible as an idea and I can begin to explain it to myself. This means I could give a basic explanation to someone else and that would be two of us feeling less alienated by an apparently bonkers approach to painting.
D’Augustine, C. 2017. How to Paint Like Pablo Picasso. [online] Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGZYfSzvPvs. Accessed 22 April 2020.
Update: Elsewhere, I’ve been having a conversation about inclusivity and the way the art industry seems to go out of its way to keep itself aloof and impenetrable by giving audiences no clue as to what a piece of work might be about. It’s a bee in my bonnet, probably with its roots in 30+ years of working with adults who have intellectual disabilities and for whom most forms of communication are anything but communicative. It’s been reinforced more recently by taking part in online courses, following up interviews with artists and documentaries about them, often featuring them talking about their work. They frequently speak with clarity, discussing their ideas, how the work arose, what its relevance was to their own lives or as a commentary on current politics or social systems. But they’re only speaking to people like me, as I am now. People choosing to read the articles, to watch the videos, to seek out the courses. We’re self-selecting and, although visitors to galleries and museums are also self-selecting, we are more privileged because we get the inside track while they’re left to flounder.
This is from a podcast series by Tamar Avishai, an art historian and past curator at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston:
“Hi. I’m curious,” I asked, as genially I could. “Why do you love Cezanne?”
Immediately she turned red. I’ll admit, my staff badge acts as both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it gives me the authority to walk up and interrupt any conversation I want, but then it stops that conversation dead in its tracks. No one is willing to sound dumb next to someone they think is an expert.
“Oh,” she said, stammering and staring at her shoes. “I don’t know. I certainly couldn’t tell you why in any fancy way.”
This is from episode zero of The Lonely Palette, which is worth 20 minutes of anyone’s time if they’re looking for an unpretentious, beautifully articulated, plainly spoken, account of art, artists, art history, and all points south, north, east and west.
Avishai, T. The Lonely Palette. From 2016 onwards. [online] Available from http://www.thelonelypalette.com/episodes/2016/4/25/episode-0-art-what-is-it-good-for. Accessed 22 April 2020.