Utorak, 05 Oktobar 2021 10:41

Pablo Picasso: The Many variations on Las Meninas of Diego Velázquez Istaknut

In 1957, Pablo Picasso isolated himself from his family, friends, and the world to create a series of fifty-eight paintings, variations on one of the most influential paintings in the world, Diego Velázquez's Las Meninas. The series is a confrontation with one of the most important works in the history of Spanish painting and also a commentary on contemporary events in Spain, observed by Picasso from his exile in France. By painting this series, he sought to understand the key elements of a work he admired while also giving his Las Meninas a life of their own. Pablo Picasso himself understood this series as a whole and as such donated it to the Museum in Barcelona in May 1968 in memory of his secretary and close friend Jaime Sabartés who died the same year.

Pablo Picasso's account of his initial attitude when he created his Las Meninas was recorded by Jaime Sabartés in his book L'Atelier de Picasso, published in 1952: “If anyone were to copy Las Meninas in complete good faith, and for example got to a certain point – and if I were the copier – would say to myself, and if I just put this a little more to the right or to the left?. I would try to do it in my own way, forgetting about Velázquez.“

Picasso's first sketch (the preliminary sketch is not considered part of the series), on August 16, 1957, marked the start of a four and a half month exploration of Las Meninas. The first painting was Las Meninas, after Velázquez. Of the fifty-eight paintings forty-five pertain directly to variations of Las Meninas, nine belong to a subseries of pigeons, three are of landscapes and one is a portrait of Jacqueline, Picasso's second wife. The last painting, completed on December 30, shows one of the ladies in a curtsy, seeming to bid the audience—or the series—farewell.

A look at the fifty-eight paintings that comprise Pablo Picasso's Las Meninas series gives insight into how ideas move about playfully when given free rein. By way of his variations, we can see how he interpreted Las Meninas.

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