Picasso Makes Wonderful Abstract Art

Pablo Picas­so, as you may know, pro­duced a fair few mem­o­rable works in his long life­time. He also came up with a num­ber of quotable quotes. “Every act of cre­ation is first an act of destruc­tion” has par­tic­u­lar­ly stuck with me, but one does won­der what an artist who thinks this way actu­al­ly does when he cre­ates — or, rather, when he first destroys, then cre­ates. Luck­i­ly for us, we can watch Picas­so in action, in vin­tage footage from sev­er­al dif­fer­ent films–first, at the top of the post, in a clip from 1950’s Vis­ite à Picas­so by Bel­gian artist and film­mak­er Paul Hae­saerts (which you can watch online: part onepart two).

In it, Picas­so paints on glass in front of the cam­era, thus enabling us to see the painter at work from, in some sense, the paint­ing’s per­spec­tive. Just above, you can watch anoth­er, sim­i­lar­ly filmed clip from Vis­ite à Picas­so.

Both of them show how Picas­so could, with­out much in the way of appar­ent advance plan­ning or thought, sim­ply begin cre­at­ing art, lit­er­al­ly at a stroke — on which would fol­low anoth­er stroke, and anoth­er, and anoth­er. “Action is the foun­da­tion­al key to all suc­cess,” he once said, words even more wide­ly applic­a­ble than the obser­va­tion about cre­ation as destruc­tion, and here we can see his actions becom­ing art before our eyes.

It also hap­pens in the clip above, though this time cap­tured from a more stan­dard over-the-shoul­der per­spec­tive. “The pur­pose of art is wash­ing the dust of dai­ly life off our souls,” Picas­so also said, and one sens­es some­thing of that ablu­tion­ary rit­u­al (and not just because of how lit­tle cloth­ing the man has cho­sen to wear) in the footage below, where­in he lays down lines on a can­vas the size of an entire wall. It comes from Hen­ri-Georges Clouzot’s 1956 doc­u­men­tary The Mys­tery of Picas­so, which offers a wealth of close looks at Picas­so’s process.

You can watch the film online here, or see a few Picas­so paint­ings come togeth­er in time-lapse in the trail­er above. “The paint­ings cre­at­ed by Picas­so in this film can­not be seen any­where else,” the crawl at the end of the trail­er informs us. “They were destroyed upon com­ple­tion of the film.” So it seems that at least some acts of cre­ation, for Picas­so him­self, not only began with an act of destruc­tion, but end­ed with one too.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Vin­tage Footage of Picas­so and Jack­son Pol­lock Paint­ing … Through Glass

Icon­ic Artists at Work: Watch Rare Videos of Picas­so, Matisse, Kandin­sky, Renoir, Mon­et and More

Guer­ni­ca: Alain Resnais’ Haunt­ing Film on Picasso’s Paint­ing & the Crimes of the Span­ish Civ­il War

The Post­cards That Picas­so Illus­trat­ed and Sent to Jean Cocteau, Apol­li­naire & Gertrude Stein

Behold Pablo Picasso’s Illus­tra­tions of Balzac’s Short Sto­ry “The Hid­den Mas­ter­piece” (1931)

Pablo Picasso’s Ten­der Illus­tra­tions For Aristo­phanes’ Lysis­tra­ta (1934)

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­maand the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future? Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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