I ran across something Picasso said on Facebook the other day. This is what he said:
The ‘refined’, the ‘rich’, the ‘professional do nothing’, the ‘distiller of quintessence’ desire only the peculiar, and sensational, the eccentric, the scandalous in today’s art. And I myself, since the advent of cubism, have fed these fellows what they wanted and satisfied these critics with all the ridiculous ideas that have passed through my head. The less they understood, the more they have admired me! …Today, as you know, I am celebrated, I am rich. But when I am alone, I do not have the effrontery to consider myself an artist at all, not in the grand meaning of the word. …I am only a public clown, a mountebank. I have understood my time and exploited the imbecility, the vanity, the greed of my contemporaries. It is a bitter confession, this confession of mine, more painful than it may seem. But, at least, and at last, it does have the merit of being honest.
I had never really thought about Picasso much until I read that. When I was younger, I wondered what all the fuss was about. When I got older, I read a few scholarly articles about him in order to try to understand why he was so important. Finally, I decided I just didn’t get it and put him out of my mind.
In my more cynical moments, I thought exactly what Picasso says above; almost word-for-word. Now that I’ve read them, I have more respect for the man than ever before. I also have a little more respect for my own opinion than I used to have.
I’ve always made it a point to keep my opinions in check. In my opinion , deeply held opinions are a sure sign of a closed mind and it often seems that the more fiercely we cling to them, the more we are hiding from ourselves. In the case of Picasso, I always felt a lot of pressure to either learn to appreciate his genius or accept the fact that I was a dullard who didn’t “get” art. I took the middle ground and just accepted the fact that I didn’t “get” Picasso. He didn’t resonate with me, so why pretend?
I don’t want to belabour this subject, so I’ll close. I just couldn’t let this opportunity to say, “I told you so” to a couple of people who actually turned and walked away from me when I suggested that Picasso was a gifted commercial artist and nothing more pass.
I told you so.