Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Review: Three Musicians

Three Musicians is a 1921 Picasso painting that shows the characteristics of Synthetic Cubism. Like earlier Cubism, there is a discontinuity between forms. The fingers of the musicians can be discerned, but there is no attempt to physically link these with the rest of their bodies. Instead this link is only suggested, as can be seen in the sharp bend of the elbow of the leftmost musician. Putting together the separate parts of these figures is part of the joy of the work.

Three Musicians by Pablo Picasso art
In other aspects Three Musicians departs from the first phase of Cubism, which was concerned with analyzing three-dimensional forms. This work is overwhelmingly two-dimensional; the patterns in the central musician's clothes are rendered as they would be if pressed flat on a table, not wrapped around a real body. Though this work was painted with oil on canvas, the sharp corners of the shapes suggest the cut-and-paste collage—a technique used by Picasso years before he made Three Musicians. The varied colors in Three Musicians help to create a relaxed mood, and they can be contrasted with the limited greens, greys, and browns in early Cubism.

Perhaps the work would have been better without the musicians' eyes, which are little more than widely-spaced holes that expose the background color. I think making out the figures is clear enough without the eyes, and they don't seem to add anything to Three Musicians. Nonetheless, Picasso should be commended for experimenting and innovating. As long as there is artistic innovation, there will be hope.

29 comments:

  1. It's a really nice painting. Picasso was a genius.

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  2. It's a really nice painting. Picasso was a genius.

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