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Archive for the ‘Picasso’ Category

(Le Pigeon aux Petits Pois-Picasso, 1911)

Raise your hand if you like cubism, please! I used to not like it. The first time I saw some cubism, I was just bored. But then again, I was 15 and I felt bored with everything. You could have shown me a mathematical equation for a process that eliminated the need for petroleum products, cured cancer and directed the way to all the lost favorite socks in the world (with the only by-product of bars of warm dark chocolate), and I would have shrugged and gave you a friendlyish half-smile, all the while dying slowly inside of soul crushing boredom.

The next time I saw a cubist painting, it made me feel icky, like I was looking at a picture of the inside of an ant colony, eggs and all. Ew. At that time I was in college looking at slides in an art appreciation class. (Truthfully, at that time the only art that I really appreciated was my own.) It was so very busy and not really OF anything. Just, thingies and stuff, all over the place. Ew.

Then somebody told me that Picasso had admitted to somebody else that he had sold his soul to the devil. That seemed interesting to me, but not enough to really look at his artwork. I might have thought about looking at his artwork a time or two, but wasn’t really motivated enough to get up and do it. Probably because of the ant colony thing.

It wasn’t until recently that I actually started to understand what the heck the big idea was about cubism. I was reading a book called Surfing Through Hyperspace: Understanding Universes in Six Easy Lessons by Clifford Pickover when I began to understand. A quote from within said volume:

Einstein’s theory of general relativity describes space and time as a unified 4-D continuum called ‘spacetime.’ Consider yourself as having three spatial dimensions-height, width, and breadth. You also have the dimension of duration-how long you last. Modern physics views time as an extra dimension; thus, we live in a universe having (at least) three spatial dimensions and one additional dimension of time. Stop and consider some mystical implications of spacetime. Can something exist outside of spacetime? For example, Thomas Aquinas believed God to be outside of spacetime and thus capable of seeing all of the universe’s objects, past and future, in one blinding instant. An observer existing outside of time, in a region called ‘hypertime,’ can see the past and future all at once (pgs. 18-19).

This is a neat idea, but the inspiring cubism part didn’t come until 32 pages later…

When you look at a 2-D painting on a wall, you step back in the third dimension and can see the boundary of the painting (usually rectangularly shaped) as well as every point in the painting. This means that you can see the entire painting from one viewpoint. If you wish to see a 3-D artwork from one viewpoint, you need to step back in the fourth dimension. Assuming your eyes could grasp such a thing, you would theoretically see every point on the 3-D artwork, and in the 3-D artwork, without moving your viewpoint. This type of “omniscient” seeing and X-ray vision was known to Cubist painters such as Duchamp and Picasso. For this reason, Cubists sometimes showed multiple views of an object in the same painting. Present day sculptors such as Arthur Silverman, often place six copies of the same 3-D object, on separate bases, in six orientations. People viewing the six disjoint sculptures often do not realize that they are all the same object. Mathematics professor Nat Friedman (State University of New York at Albany) refers to this theoretical seeing in hyperspace as “hyperseeing” and points out in his writings that in hyperspace one can hypersee a 3-D object completely from one viewpoint.

Wow. Now that is far out. Maybe he sold his soul to the devil in order to do it, but Picasso figured out a way to paint so that the viewer can see multiple sides (points of view) all at the same time and from the same place. That is cool. Not icky or boring in the least! I wonder what Einstein would say about all this…wait! What’s that you say? Einstein came up with the theory of relativity in the same decade as Picasso started painting as if he lived on a beam of light?

(Portrait of Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler-Picasso 1910)

Guess I’ll have to make an Einstein/Picasso posting soon…

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