Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon

Picasso's 'The Avignon Girls' is a fine, striking, beautiful painting. I have a very high opinion of it. But it's hard to find an art critic who'll talk about it without stressing its 'revolutionary' and 'shocking' qualities. They mean that it shocked the salons and tastes of conventional 1907 artgoers; but its revolutionary-ness has been swallowed by the success of its formal innovations, and its 'shock' is now something reported rather than felt. Saying so isn't to argue the painting has become diluted (although maybe it has); but it is to argue that longer term cultural endurance will depend upon the images ability to do more than shock.

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