Staring at art from the Tate's collection and thinking about it

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Circus Artist and Child - Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso, Circus Artist and Child, 1905, ink and watercolour on paper, Tate.















For all his genius (and I have absolutely no truck with the 'Picasso doesn't really matter any more' school of thought), Picasso did suffer occasional lapses into trite sentimentality, and this is an early of example of this.  Although sentimentality was a key feature of his Blue Period, from which this work arises, (note the tell-tale 'blueness') it was generally offset by an emotional rawness, with the hand-to-mouth existence of the circus performers usually depicted starkly captured.  This sketch, however, is like the bits of a classic Chaplin film enthusiasts now apologise for.  The reference to the tradition of Madonna painting is tiresomely obvious, while the pathos of the poverty-stricken figure wearing a costume tiara is forced.  The bottle is nice.  Overall, though, bad work from one of the greatest artists who ever lived.

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