T J Clark’s Picasso and Truth offers a breathtaking and original new look at the most significant artist of the modern era. From Pablo Picasso’s early The Blue Room to the later Guernica, the art historian offers a striking reassessment of the artist’s paintings from the 1920s and 1930s. Why was the space of a room so basic to Picasso’s worldview? And what happened to his art when he began to feel that room-space had become too confined – too little exposed to the catastrophes of the twentieth century? Based on the A W Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts delivered at the National Gallery of Art, Clark focuses on three central works – the large-scale Guitar and Mandolin on a Table (1924), The Three Dancers (1925) and The Painter and His Model (1927) – and explores Picasso’s answer to Nietzsche’s belief that the age-old commitment to truth was imploding in modern European culture. Clark rescues Picasso from the celebrity culture that trivialises his accomplishments and returns us to the tragic vision of his art – humane and appalling, naïve and difficult, in mourning for a lost nineteenth century, yet utterly exposed to the hell of Europe between the wars.
Watch a clip of Picasso painting on glass from the documentary A Visit to Picasso.
T J Clark is George C and Helen N Pardee Professor of Art History Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of The Painting of Modern Life, The Sight of Death, Farewell to an Idea and Picasso and Truth, and the coauthor of Afflicted Powers.
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