Canada Dreams
Berger, John. The Success and Failure of Picasso. 1965. England: Penguin, 1966.
This book attempts to evaluate Picasso's work and the successful achievement of his goals through the morass of public opinion and Picasso's self generated personal image. Picasso is acknowledged as an artistic genius beginning as a child prodigy. How much does his social environment; especially, his growth of fortune; fame; and the many changes of world politics affect his growth and development as an artist?
Berger suggests that Picasso's greatest work is his work of the Cubist period between 1907 and 1914. The next important and productive period was between 1930 and 1944. He also did some great work during the Paris period between 1900 and 1907; especially, when he moved permanently to France in 1904, this was important as it was a time when he actually experienced poverty and alienation. The Cubist period intuitively reflected the changing world around Picasso and his Cubist friends such as Braque and Gris.
This was a era of monopolies, quantum physics, the Russian revolution, mass production, the automobile, flight, and the approach of world war. After 1914 Picasso was alone once more with his friends and comrades off to war. Financial success and this alienation drove him deeper into his own sensations which matured and developed to blossom in his affair with Thérèse Walter, who he met in 1931. In 1944 Picasso joined the French Communistic Party and ended his alienation by taking a stand. Unfortunately the Communists used his name and his symbol of a dove while condemning his work as decadent. His work was not openly criticized, but neither was it praised. He was praised as an artist genius and a Communist, but his art was never mentioned or criticized thus leaving him exempt of examination and exemption is a form of alienation.
Picasso's art, aside from his two great periods when he was in relationship with people and the overwhelming events of the world around him, is an example of self indulgent sensuality and the phony masks of his luke warm relationships. The most generous thing to say is that he was successful in documenting a lonely life.


 
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