Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Picasso applying his hypotheses to the most unlikely places

Picasso is a born chef d’école. His is one of the most inventive minds in Europe. Invention is as clearly his supreme gift as sensibility is that of Matisse. His career has been a series of discoveries, each of which he has rapidly developed. A highly original and extremely happy conception enters his head, suggested, probably, by some odd thing he has seen. Forthwith he sets himself to analyze it and disentangle those principles that account for its peculiar happiness. He proceeds by experiment, applying his hypotheses in the most unlikely places. The significant elements of Negro sculpture are found to repeat their success in the drawing of a lemon. Before long he has established what looks like an infallible method for producing an effect of which, a few months earlier, no one had so much as dreamed. This is one reason why Picasso is a born chef d’école. And this is why of each new phase in his art the earlier examples are apt to be the more vital and well nourished. At the end he is approaching that formula towards which his intellectual effort tends inevitably. It is time for a new discovery. - Clive Bell, 1920

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