How to read PICASSO? The girl on the ball. 1905.

= Young Acrobat on a Ball (1905) =
By Pablo Ruiz Picasso (1881-1973), Spain / Oil on canvas
Tour: Gallery of 19th and 20th-Century European and American Art (section of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts).
Photo #120 taken on January 16, 2013
©2013 Arthur Lookyanov / ArtLook Photography

The girl on the ball. 1905

Picasso on the one hand is a communist, a progressive figure, a prominent peace activist. On the other hand, he was a “bourgeois formalist who distorted reality”. But the “Girl on a Ball” has always been beyond criticism, and, perhaps, beyond competition, honored to get to the postage stamps. And this was the highest degree of official recognition.

= Young Acrobat on a Ball (1905) =
By Pablo Ruiz Picasso (1881-1973), Spain / Oil on canvas
Tour: Gallery of 19th and 20th-Century European and American Art (section of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts).
Photo #120 taken on January 16, 2013
©2013 Arthur Lookyanov / ArtLook Photography

An artist’s fellow countryman, Spanish poet Rafael Alberti, said “Picasso came to this world to shake it up, turn it inside out and provide other eyes. It’s true – the world painting is really divided into “before” and “after” Picasso. French compatriot and colleague of the artist, surrealist Andre Breton, either in a fit of self-blaming or from creative powerlessness, said: “Where Picasso was, there is nothing to do! And this is also true – Picasso is so strong, multifaceted and diverse that no modern artist can create without looking back at him or even equating him.

It is all the more funny to be aware of the simple fact that this painting of the very finale of the “pink” period is nothing but a daring challenge claiming to be such a break with traditions that many of the surrealists’ exercises fade away.

Usually the picture is “solved” simply. They say that it can be read very clearly – the opposition between movement and immobility, strength and grace. It seems as if one can see the future cubism – indeed, the shapes of the figures are slightly simplified, brought almost to geometry. Plus, again, the contrast between two classic figures – the ball and the cube. That’s all.

But we need to make one more small step. For example, to remember one ancient Latin proverb:

Sedes Fortunae rotunda
Sedes Virtutis quadrata

If you try to convey the meaning of the proverb, it will be something like “Fortune is changeable, and Valor is constant. Lliteral translation will give us the exact video order of the picture: “The place of Fortune is round, the place of Valor is square”.

However, this is not the end. In the ancient tradition of fickleness was held by the god Dionysus. Constancy – by the department of Apollo. Picasso knew this very well. And carefully read the work of scandalous philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, “The Birth of Tragedy in the Spirit of Music,” where he claims that the basis of European culture is not the constancy and order of Apollo, but the riot and chaos of Dionysus.

“The Girl on a Ball is that very moment of delicate balance. The main question is what will win? Breakage, chaos and riot, or calm, order and harmony? While in the art of Picasso won Apollo. Even in his cubism was his own order, which is to say about classicism. But the times when everything would change were not far off.

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