Wednesday, December 16, 2015

"Picasso In The Sky" Reference Notes

Since posting "Picasso In The Sky With Diamonds" I've received numerous notes and inquiries from classrooms and other interested parties around the world understandably asking for analysis and explanation. This doesn't happen with every posting but with a massive influx like this I feel compelled to respond in a follow-up posting to clear the air. I realize I may have to adjust this later if repeated new lines of inquiry come across my desk but here goes for now.

Did Picasso really wander the Spanish countryside looking for inspiration?
No idea. Only factual research I did was to check the year of his first cubist painting and set it in the year before. Historical fiction.

Are you saying with this piece Picasso stole his idea for Cubism?
Well, it's his actual quote about how great artists steal! But no, I'm making no accusations. I just wanted to give something that could be an example of thievery. Had Cubism remained in that blacksmith's hands it would never have seen the light of day. A parallel to this is Led Zeppelin stealing riffs from other songs, most notably the opening to Stairway To Heaven. But it's Stairway that made the riff, not the other way around. I think that is an important point when talking about Zeppelin's plagiarism.

What other lines are actual Picasso quotes?
"Painting is a blind man's profession. He paints not what he sees, but what he feels, what he tells himself about what he has seen." "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." "Art is a lie that tells the truth." That last one is my favorite. I hope my context did those lines justice in illustration of what he meant.

What was the point of a blacksmith discovering Cubism? Why couldn't he become famous?
Artistic theft was the initial thrust of the post so that element had to be in there. Another point I wanted to make was not all genius comes to light in a direct manner. I do believe that happens all the time. Stairway is a good example of that. The opening notes would have been lost to our consciousness if not for Zeppelin's use of them. Genius is half the battle, putting it into the light is the other. Doing one is easy. Doing both is when lightning strikes.

But how could a simple blacksmith come up with Cubism? Only a great artist can do that.
Who said he was simple? His life was rather complicated in my mind. The key line from his is this: "But I wasn't even trying to do anything." It seems like a throwaway statement but its meaning is twofold. First, it shows he had no external pressure to be a great artist like Picasso who was making art his claim to fame. Many, many an artist has failed under the pressure of having to produce. Picasso knew people with the blacksmith's kind of freedom were more likely to come up with The Next Great Thing. That's what sent him searching in the first place (according to the story).

Secondly, by not trying to do anything the blacksmith's true feelings were able to come through unfettered. It's like the story of John Lennon desperately trying to write a meaningful song. He tried all day and nothing came to him. So he crashed on the bed and gave up. Minute he did that "Nowhere Man" came to him. It's about letting go. Had the blacksmith been actually trying to do something meaningful the output would have been garbage.

So is this an allegory to your own blog as well?
That's an insightful question. Answer is "yes". I am like the blacksmith in that my pain drives me to write. But I cannot connect it to something larger. That's why I call this blogging, not writing. This is closer to writing exercises, something you don't expect to see the light of day. The stuff I wrote for the light of day I don't do anymore. And to return to that I would need Emily, who is gone with the wind. There's a moral component to being a successful artist that cannot be overlooked. Dreams are slippery things.

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