Picasso's Les Demoiselles D'Avignon

Essay by heenanUniversity, Bachelor's February 2005

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Nude women in a brothel are the subjects of Pablo Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon from 1907. After showing his eight-foot-square canvas to a group of painters, patrons, and art critics at his studio, Picasso was faced with shock, disgust, and outrage. Picasso made a dangerous attempt to break away from traditional representational ideas and created a harsh and violent tone in his painting. Georges Braque, one of Picasso's contemporaries, had declared to Picasso, "Your painting looks as if you wanted to make us eat tow, or drink gasoline and spit fire" (Gilot 63). Andre Derain, a Fauvist, said it was "a desperate enterprise" and that Picasso would soon commit suicide (Everdell 251). While Henri Matisse, leader of the Fauves, was angered and called the painting "a hoax" (PBS Online). No one could understand why Picasso would throw away the traditional notions of beauty and the conventional forms of the human body, for these disfigured barbaric looking creatures he identified as women.

However, although the painting was misunderstood, it is now regarded as the most significant work in the development toward Cubism and Modern Abstraction. Specifically, this paper will examine Picasso's influences to reject traditional methods and his depiction of women, with mention to style, content, and form. Through assessment, the power and significance of Les Demoiselles d'Avignon will be demonstrated, despite the fact that people were offended and irritated by its presence.

The time Picasso started his research for Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, the trend of western art was undefined. Picasso's personal struggle to figure out and develop Les Demoiselles d'Avignon became an artistic struggle because he needed a new way to express his ideas. This search for new ideas conveyed Picasso to incorporate several different styles together in the one painting. The different styles...