I’ve never been a fan of Picasso, except for the fact that his paintings and demonized relationships with women are made visual through his art and the subject of numerous biographies. In his genius Picasso opens up the male psyche and lays bare his obsession with femaleness.
Reading this morning Picasso’s words: “You cannot go against nature. She is stronger than the strongest of men. We can permit ourselves some liberties, but in details only” made me think of International Women’s Day and the women of Egypt marching today on behalf of themselves.
Across Egypt nine in 10 women have their clitoris cut out, the past and present remnants of a culture that believes female sensuality is more powerful than “the strongest of men. We can permit ourselves some liberties, but in details only”.
‘Les Demoiselles d’Avignon’ by Pablo Picasso was originally titled ‘the Brothel of Avignon’ and it’s said that Picasso had all five women for his pleasure.
Each figure is depicted in a disconcerting confrontational manner and none are conventionally feminine. The women appear as slightly menacing and rendered with angular and disjointed body shapes. Two are shown with African mask-like faces and three more with faces in the Iberian style of Picasso’s native Spain, giving them a savage aura. In this adaptation of Primitivism and abandonment of perspective in favor of a flat, two-dimensional picture plane, Picasso makes a radical departure from traditional European painting. The work is widely considered to be seminal in the early development of both Cubism and modern art. Demoiselles was revolutionary and controversial, and led to wide anger and disagreement, even amongst his closest associates and friends. via Wiki
If we acted on the universal truths about women revealed in Picasso’s art, his life would have more relevance to me.
I like how the Telegraph described a story about Picasso, related to his 2009 show ‘Picasso: Challenging the Past’ at London’s National Gallery:
Mark Hudson looks at how the artist saw the women in his life — as either goddesses or doormats.
‘Women are machines for suffering,’ Picasso told Françoise Gilot in 1943. As the 61-year-old artists embarked on a nine-year-affair with the 21 year-old student said: ‘For me there are only two kinds of women: goddesses and doormats.’
Fighting the Boys Club
As an American woman of a certain age, I can’t believe that I’m headed back to Washington DC on April 7th, to protest and meet with mostly Republican legislators who have declared war on women. In the last month, I’ve protested legislation in South Dakota that would give a man the right to kill his wife if she was trying to assist her daughter in getting an abortion.
The Republican men are unyielding in their insistence that new abortion legislation will insist that hospitals receiving any federal funds must let the woman die, rather than perform the Supreme Court ordered abortion that is her right.
Like Picasso’s art, I feel that the full range of men’s misogynist feelings towards women are being laid bare in an unplanned strategy that is rolling in its own momentum.
Yesterday I wrote ‘Does Blake Lively Bow To Fashion Fascism? Ask Rhonda Garelick’. The articulate professor of culture is writing a book on Coco Chanel and knows well the history of Parisian collaboration with the Nazis.
As a lover of the LVMH brands and corporate conscience generally, I regret they are now caught in a conversation that I personally direct to fashion’s Parisian pope and not Dior. Garelick takes him on, too.
Just like the eruption in Egypt that left everyone speechless, the esoteric world of fashion kings may be headed for a rumble.
Twice in about a month one of my idols Diane von Furstenberg has left me speechless and really disappointed in her. First she criticized First Lady Michelle Obama for wearing Alexander McQueen to a State Dinner. With regard to John Galliano, she insists he was provoked.
A Woman Gets What She Deserves
‘No one used and abused his women quite like the greatest artist of the 20th century, Pablo Picasso,’ writes Mark Hudson.
Diane Von Furstenberg suggests the woman on the receiving end of John Galliano’s disgusting racist, misogynist, drunken tirade surely provoked him. As always, our male creative gods must be excused for their behavior.
Misogyny is often the essence of male genius for complex, psychological reasons.
The good news is there are men who view women differently and many have been my friends and lovers. My husband we won’t talk about.
Perfect you should ask about the Masai women on my site - they are performing a fertility ritual in order to gain awareness for women who can not give birth to go and see a witch doctor. I had the rare opportunity to shoot them performing this ritual while shooting a travel/portrait story in Kenya. Importantly, many of the girls(particularly with purple beading) are recently circumcised, which is still a common ritual among the Masai. It was so tough to either be proud for them - as they are - or voice my opinion against the ‘rite of passage’ toward womanhood. I mean my love for the women, and the beading, and the ritual dress means I to need to appreciate the customs and rituals, but how does one choose or decide what’s right or acceptable - its a loaded situation non the less. I truly appreciate your interest and its an honor to share. Thanks again…
I replied to Ahrens that I’ve written a lot about female circumcision and much of my writing is translated into Arabic. Our AOC audience is truly global, and I have a strong following in Africa and the Middle East for my passionate but also balanced writing on life in the region.
To reaffirm his position, one male artist who appears to have a less troubled relationship with women than either Picasso — and perhaps some of the demigods of our fashion world — wrote back:
I DO NOT in ANY way agree with female circumcision. I simply mean its is hard to appreciate a culture which I find so beautiful, and justify a ritual I find so brutal - and in the end, I’m not sure its my place to enforce or seek jurisprudence in the situation.
The challenge of cultural relativity is the conundrum of modern life, and I worry about the same issues, usually anchoring my opinions as a result of reading the views of educated people living in the region. I take pride in the fact that I may be the only American invited to join a group of Egyptian intellectuals devoted to the arts as cultural and political expression.
But when we’re talking Picasso, the world of fashion or House Speaker John Boehner, there is no need for cultural apologies. These are my people, my world and the future of my young women.
Here I will speak frankly, and I have a growing sense that I am not alone. Anne
New Talent | Ming by Ehren Joseph | ‘Sumi’ AOC Private Studio
on 2011-03-09 16:09 by Anne
Message: Anne… *chuckle*… I won’t argue what Picasso thought, I didn’t know the dude to speak with any authority. But on the subject of deities and doormats I’ll return to you the old girl joke about the boys: “Men are like a hardwood floor… lay ‘em right the first time and you can walk on them for a lifetime.”