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"Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avingnon"
Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avingnon
Sean Wilson
Les Demoiselles d'Avingnon 1907

Pablo Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avingnon features five angular female figures posed against a jagged blue curtain. This disconcerting sculptural depiction shocks the viewer through its harsh contours and disjointed subject matter of crowded nudes. The juxtaposition of western and 'primitive' art creates apprehension through the tight rectangular composition of Renaissance-influenced curvaceous women in the centre and primitive distorted masked figures in the outer of the artwork. These crudely painted bodies appear to have been pressed flat onto the picture plane with little representation of space. Picasso has destroyed the concept of depth or shape through the lack of changes in colour, intensity or sharpness seen throughout the artwork. Instead, he has merely used dark outlines to model the figures and fragmented the forms into geometric facets, which allows for a distinction between the objects in the painting.

The two central figures of the painting are stretched out with their enlarged eyes turned towards the audience. Picasso has dramatised their facial features and simplified their body shape to create sculpture like figures seemingly carved into the background. The stark expression of these two figures is believed to have been influenced by Iberian sculpture. The position of the woman on the left hand side appears awkward and insecure, forcing the audience to expect her to collapse. This lack of naturalism in terms of proportion and perspective is a direct challenge put forward by Picasso, questioning the audience-artwork assumptions and expectations. These two women are in a frontal position however their noses are in profile, diminishing any sense of linear perspective. The far nude on the left is on profile and hold close resemblance to Archaic Greek female sculpture with her expressionless stare and unnaturally rigid stance.

It is clear to the audience that there is a definite disjunction between the left...

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"Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avingnon." Aug 20, 2018
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