My museum paper is on the Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, painted by Pablo Picasso in Paris, June-July 1907. Oil on canvas, 8’x7’ 8” (243.9×233.7cm). He became one of the greatest and most influential artists of the 20th century and the creator (with Georges Braque) of Cubism. A Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and stage designer, Picasso was considered radical in his work. Born October 25, 1881, Malaga, Spain, and after a long prolific career, he died April 8, 1973 in Mougins, France.
This was my first time at the Museum of Modern Art; I never went there because I never had everyone to go with me. I went with my cousin; she is an art teacher and who better to go to the Museum of Modern Art with then an art teacher. When we first got to the museum there wasn’t much to see in the lobby. We went on the escalator to the fifth floor were hundreds of people walking all thought-out the galleries. My cousin explained all the different types of art and artists to me as we were walking though the galleries. I ended up in the Alfred H. Barr Jr. Painting and Sculpture Galleries where I seen a painting from a French painter, Fernand Leger called “Women with a Book” I thought that was the painting that I wanted to do my report on, but when I seen art work from Pablo Picasso like, The Studio, Ma Jolie and The Three Musician I was speechless. Some of his work that I seen at the museum was breathtaking, but one in particular caught my eye; it was the Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.
It is located in the Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller, Second Gallery. As you walk into the gallery, the “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” is the first painting you see, because of how large it is, and all the bright colors in the art work. When I seen the Les Demoiselles d’Avignon in my art book I through that it was a nice painting, but when I stood right in-front of it I was astonish. The Les Demoiselles d’Avignon is not just a painting; it truly is a master piece. There had to be about thirty people standing around the Les Demoiselles d’Avignon and another twenty people looking at the other art work in the room. Some people were just standing looking at the painting, some taking pictures.
As I, started taking pictures of Les Demoiselles d’Avignon I couldn’t help but notice the painting to the right, it was called “Repose” and to the left was another painting called the “Two Nudes” both are painted by Picasso. Les Demoiselles d’Avignon are the woman of Avignon, the term demoiselles (meaning “young ladies”), was a euphemism for prostitutes and “Avignon” refers not to the French town but to a street in the red-light district of the city of Barcelona where Picasso was a young artist. (Art A Brief History), pg 532. Print. The d’Avignon are actually five prostitutes, and these are five women naked. They’re looking at us, as much as we’re looking at them. The very early studies show a sailor walking into this curtained room where the ladies stand and the woman on the far left now has the traces of having been that man entering the room, and you can even feel a certain masculinity in the sort of sculptural carving of her body and the way that the very large foot is stepping toward the others.
It almost seem like it’s a build-up of geometric forms, and if you look at the chest of the woman at the very top right, you can see one of these cubes making up the space underneath her chin, thus the name Cubism. One striking aspect of this painting is the way that it’s staged on which these women are painted, is almost looming out at the viewer. Rather than feeling like these woman are nice and safely set back in some kind of room, that you are peering into. I feel like the woman are almost piled on top of each other. Piled in such a way that the canvas is almost stepping out at the viewer. Its part of the desire of the painting to confront you, I think physically, psychologically, as well as intellectually with everything that’s going on in it. It’s painted in pinkish, peach flesh skin tones against a back drop of brown, white and blue curtains. The figures are very flat and theirs is little illusion that these are real bodies. Looking at the five figures from left to right, the woman to the far left is standing in profile facing right with her left hand; she reaches up behind her head to hold an orange brown curtain back.
She has long straight black hair falling down her back. Her head, from the neck up peers to be in shadow or sun-tan, it’s a darker brown than the pinkish flesh of her body. She stares straight ahead expressionless. Her right eye from the front view is large, simplified and out-lined in black with a black pupil surrounded by brown. Her right arm hangs stiffly by her side. Her breast jets forward in a ruff square shape. Beside this figure, in the center of this painting are two women looking directly forward, straight out of the canvas. Their black eyes are wide and uneven. Their left eye brows extend a sweeping line to form simplify noses. Their mouths are straight lines.
The one on the left raises her bent right elbow and places her hand behind her head, as if posing seductively. Her black hair is pulled back and falls behind her left shoulder. Her breasts are half circles; none of the women’s breast has nipples. The women on the right, raises both arms and puts both hands behind her hand. Her dark brown hair is pulled into a high bun. The last two figures don’t fit in with the painting, they are unexpected. The one to the top right stands back, her raised arms parting the blue curtain on which she’s coming out from. Her black hair hangs down her back; one eye socket black and empty. Her nose, like her face is large and elongated, striped diagonally in green across her cheek, suggesting less the face of a human then the forms of an African mask.
In front of her, is another woman she is sitting or squatting, elbow on one raised knee which jets forward at the center of the painting almost looks as if her back is facing the viewer, but that is not true because her dark tan face is turned towards the viewer. She raises her arm to her face and beneath her chin is a large ambiguous form recalling a boomerang, it might be her hand, or a piece of melon she’s eating. Her body is flat and her nose is also stripped. Her face looks like a mask, and she has one uneven eye completely white, the other completely blue. The drapery behind them doesn’t hang softly; it looks like shatter pieces of glass with blue and white tones.
In the center at the bottom of the painting are assorted fruits on a wrinkle white cloth; a pear, an apple, grapes and a slice of melon. The pear and apple have shrieks of red in them, the melon is reddish too and the grapes are grayish white. In conclusion, my experience at the Museum of Modern Art was delightful. Walking through the museum and seeing ancient statues and painting from so many different decades was so fulfilling. I didn’t realize how much I enjoy looking at art work; I just wanted to see more and more. I kept asking myself, how did they do this? How did they do that? What were they thinking when they paint this? Even though I didn’t get all my answers I was like a sponge, soaking it all up. What a wonderful, amazing day. I will definitely go back.
Cothren Michael W., and Marilyn Stokstad. Art: A Brief History 4th ed. Page.531, 19-7. Acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest (333.1939) Laurence King Publishing Ltd, London. (2010-2007) Print.
Museum of Modern Art 11 West 53 Street, New York, NY 10019. April 29, 2012 Pablo Picasso. Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. 1907. Oil on canvas, 8′ x 7′ 8″ (243.9 x 233.7 cm). Acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest. © 2003 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. http://www.moma.org/ Web. (2012).
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