Pablo Picasso : 1881-1973 by Anatoliĭ Podoksik

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Not accidentally, Picasso now set stock by external conditions, planning another trip to Paris to breathe different air, speak another language, see other faces and adopt another lifestyle. In April 1904 he went back to Paris — for good, as it was to turn out. He moved into a studio building known as the Bateau-Lavoir (Laundry Barge), a nickname given to it by Max Jacob for its strange design. A dilapidated wooden house that clung to the heights of Montmartre, which was pastorally peaceful in those times, the Bateau-Lavoir became Picasso’s home for the next five years, and the atmosphere of this bohemian nest, its texture of poverty, became the atmosphere and texture of his canvases of 1904-1908.

43 Portrait of a Young Woman, 1903. Oil on canvas pasted on cardboard, The Hermitage, St. Petersburg. 41 Two Figures in Profile and the Head of a Man, Studies, 1901. 2 cm, The Hermitage, St. Petersburg. Head of an Old Man with a Crown (The King), 1905. Paper, pen, Indian ink, pastel, 17 x 10 cm, The Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow. 42 And yet, as the pressure of Picasso’s emotional crisis began to ease, his consciousness sought a way out in the external, in reality. This urge for the concrete was expressed in cityscapes, albeit muffled in the darkness of night, and especially in the portraiture which manifested itself in the middle of 1903.

In that sense the motif of blindness in Old Jew and a Boy had a special importance for Picasso, as Penrose so profoundly realized. “In considering the act of perception, Picasso has always been amazed at the discrepancy between seeing an object and knowing it. Its superficial appearance is to him absurdly inadequate. Seeing is not enough, neither is the aid that the other senses can bring. There are other faculties of the mind which must be brought into play if perception is to lead to understanding.

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