Evaluate the view that art reflects the social values of a particular time and place. “Painting isn’t an aesthetic operation; it’s a form of magic designed as a mediator between this strange, hostile world and us, a way of seizing the power by giving form to our terrors as well as our desires” this quote by Pablo Picasso allows the audience to delve deeper into his emotions and what has finally persuaded Picasso to enter the art world. Art reflects the social values of a particular time and place; this can be seen throughout many of Picasso’s artworks throughout time, and how he and his techniques have changed over the period of his career.
Pablo Picasso was one of the twentieth century’s most famous artists. Picasso was born in Spain in 1881 and died in South France aged 92. During his life time Picasso had an enormous impact on the Western Art world. Guernica is a grey, black and white painting which reaches 3. 5 meters tall and 7. 8 meters wide. The painting shows images of people and animals suffering as well as buildings destroyed by the violence and chaos. The painting is depicted within a room where there are animals and people all over the place, at an open end on the left a bull can be seen standing over a woman who is grieving over a lost child.
The centre of the painting is occupied by a horse that is falling as it has just been struck. Picasso’s art work Guernica is one of the most well-known artworks he has completed; created in 1937 this picture depicts an image responding to the bombing of Guernica by the Germans and Italians during the Spanish Civil War. Throughout the work of Guernica we see images which connect Picasso to his homeland, Spain. One of Spain’s most well known icons is the use of the bull; the bull is seen as a brave animal and is used often as a symbol of struggle, courage and victory.
Bulls have been seen throughout a number of Picasso’s works as they have close relations to his past, since his childhood he has loved the figure of the bull and has used it in many images throughout his career. Picasso uses the use of the bombing in Guernica as the main theme of his artwork, using history in his art making. Throughout Picassos painting career he went through a number of periods, Picasso’s Blue period (1900 – 1904) shows a time when Picasso painted mostly in shades of blue, these works were inspired by Spain even though they were painted in Paris.
These works all seemed to reflect Picasso’s experience with relative poverty and instability. Picasso’s blue period represents him at a time when he was dealing with his depression after the shocking death of his friend, although he was not there to witness this event it still had a large impact on Picasso, the drama from this event emerged throughout several of his works. One of Picasso’s early works from his Blue Period was the Blue Nude created in 1902; this painting is a part of his blue period, it shows the talent that Picasso possesses as it still managed to highlight deep feelings with the use of only one colour pallet.
Blue Nude depicts the image of a woman who is sitting with her back towards us holding her knees as if she is in the search for security and comfort. These artworks allow the audience to have a deeper understanding on how Picasso has changed over the course of his art life and how issues have impacted him on his painting styles and techniques. Picasso has used his memories and feelings in his art making to show the deeper meaning of society, throughout his blue period he painted a lot of the real, raw people of Paris (e. g. prostitutes, beggars and drunks) which shows what influenced him at the time.
Another one of Picasso’s artworks is Bullfight: Death of the Toreador this artwork shows a clear indication to how Picasso has progressed and moved though his periods. The artwork is full of colour and incorporates his love of bullfighting. Picasso often painted bullfights which were held on Sundays when he was unable to attend them. Interestingly this work was not painted in his home town, Spain, but painted in Paris. The painting depicts a grey house in a panicking state, the horse is painted with heavy brushstrokes which show a tonal contrast which enhances the moment we see the bullfighter’s death.
The grey tones used on the horse makes the horse less obvious to the viewing audience. The presents of the horse and the man is taken up by the mass of red cape which twirls in between the bull and the fighter. The colour in this painting creates a powerful scene of energy, violence and death. This picture shows an influence to the Spanish culture, as mentioned before, the bull is an important part of the Spanish culture, the bull represents struggle, courage and victory, bull fighting was seen as a way to prepare for the war.
By including the bull fighting scene in this artwork Picasso has added something which is important to him and his cultural background. Art reflects the social values of a particular time and place, Picasso show’s this through a number of his works. He has emphasised his values towards his culture by the symbols he uses in his artworks to make them personal (e. g. the bull and the use of blue tones) the personalisation of his works enable us to have a greater understanding of the message Picasso is trying to convey to the audience.