“Girl with a Mandolin (Fanny Tellier)”, 1910, Oil on canvas, 100.3 x 73.6 cm, New York, The Museum of Modern Art – “Portrait of Olga in the Armchair”, 1917, Oil on canvas, 130 x 88,8 cm, Paris, Musée Picasso
- Lavoro a coppie. Gli studenti leggono il testo proposto e inseriscono le parole mancanti, scegliendole dalla lista che trovano di seguito. Il significato dei termini sottolineati è fornito alla fine del testo, per le altre parole gli studenti possono usare il dizionario. Al termine si corregge collettivamente con l’aiuto dell’insegnante. Tempo previsto: 30 minuti.
Il testo sottostante ha già le soluzioni in blu. L’insegnante deve stamparlo ed eliminare le parole di cui si fornisce la lista:
atmosphere – between – city – company – completion – conceptual – depicted – details – formal – intentions – lyrical – marry – material – mimetic – physical – pictorial – serve – techniques – viewpoints – wife – writer –
By 1910, Picasso and Braque had developed Cubism into an entirely new means of pictorial expression. In the initial stage, known as Analytical Cubism, objects were deconstructed into their components. In some cases, this was a means to depict different viewpoints simultaneously; in other works, it was used more as a method of visually laying out the facts of the object, rather than providing a limited mimetic representation. The aim of Analytical Cubism was to produce a conceptual image of an object, as opposed to a perceptual one.1
Girl with a Mandolin (Fanny Tellier) is not only one of the most beautiful, lyrical and accessible of all Cubist paintings, but is also a valuable document of the period. For the fact that at the time Picasso saw the work as unfinished, allows us an insight into his aesthetic intentions and his technical procedure. In the first place, the legibility of this canvas demonstrates conclusively that although Cubist paintings were becoming more abstract in appearance, the artists were still deeply conditioned, at least in the early stages of their works, by the material existence and the physical appearance of their subjects. Then again the painting illustrates in a very concrete fashion the pull Picasso felt between the desire to give forms an explicit, volumetric treatment, and the need to flatten them up onto the picture plane (compare, for example, the almost sculptural treatment of the breasts and the arms with that of the head, which is rendered in terms of two flat planes). Had the painting reached completion, it would have become simultaneously more elaborate, more abstract and more consistent in style.2
The outbreak of World War I in August 1914 ended Picasso’s partnership with Braque, who was called up to serve in the army. Although Picasso, as a Spanish citizen, did not have to become a combatant, he was affected by the changed atmosphere in Paris, and then devastated by the death of his companion, Eva, who succumbed to tuberculosis.
His spirits revived when the writer Jean Cocteau recruited him to design the decor and costumes of Parade, a daring modernist production by Serge Diaghilev’s celebrated Russian ballet. Working on the project in Rome, Picasso found himself exhilarated by the city and its classic tradition, and by the physical beauty of the dancers. He fell in love with one of them, Olga Koklova, who became his wife in July 1918.
The exquisite Portrait of Olga in an Armchair, combining meticulous details with a cursorily made background, gives the measure of Picasso’s mastery of conventional techniques, which were about to assume a new importance in his work.3
Olga Stepanova Khokhlova was a Ukranian-Russian ballet dancer with green eyes and auburn hair (…). Khokhlova, when she was the fiancée of Picasso, retired from the company and travelled with Picasso to Barcelona, where she was introduced to his family. In works like Portrait of Olga in an Armchair, Picasso depicted her in Spanish guise to assuage his mother, who had hoped her son would marry a Spanish woman.4
Olga was of high society and enjoyed formal events while Picasso was more bohemian in his interests and pursuits. Their son Paulo (Paul) was born in 1921 (and died in 1975), influencing Picasso’s imagery to turn to mother and child themes. They split up in 1935.5
(1. www.artchive.com – 2. From John Golding, “Cubism, A History and an Analysis, 1907-1914” – www.leninimports.com – 4. deyoung.famsf.org – 5. http://www.sapergalleries.com)
to) assuage: calmare
auburn: biondo rame
facts: fatti reali (in questo caso gli elementi reali)
fashion: modo, maniera
(to) flatten: appiattire
laying out: tirando fuori
(to) split up: dividere
- Lavoro di gruppo. L’insegnante divide la classe in piccoli gruppi di tre/quattro persone. All’interno di ogni gruppo si discute (in inglese) osservando i due lavori di Picasso e rispondendo alle domande proposte. Alla fine si corregge collettivamente con l’aiuto dell’insegnante. Le risposte qui formulate sono puramente indicative. La correzione deve essere il punto di partenza per uno scambio di idee e interventi da parte degli studenti. Tempo previsto: 60 minuti.
- Describe what is represented in Girl with a Mandolin (Fanny Tellier):
How is the subject positioned? What do you see of her?
What is she doing?
Is she dressed or naked? What makes you come to this conclusion?
Describe the background.
Answer: The subject is a woman who is playing a mandolin: we can see her almost frontally, the face is a little reclined on the right. All the parts of the body are synthesized in geometrical elements, assembled on the canvas, giving an intellectual idea of the subject and not a realistic representation. She is naked, in fact her breast is very evident. In the background, especially on the left, you can see other geometric shapes, looking better it is possible to identify some canvas with the frame, one over the other, so the painting was made in the studio of the painter.
- Which colours did Picasso use in the Girl with a Mandolin (Fanny Tellier)? In which way did he spread the colours on the canvas?
Answer: Picasso used a few tonalities of beige and grey; he used a very sophisticated technique, spreading the colour with little strokes, in every geometrical area the colour passes from the light to the dark.
- What was the purpose of Picasso painting the Girl with a Mandolin (Fanny Tellier) in this way?
Answer: The purpose was studying the reality from another point of view, more intellectual, eliminating everything that was superfluous and de-constructing the subjects into their components. It was an artistic experiment.
- Describe what is represented in Portrait of Olga in an Armchair:
How is the subject positioned?
What is she doing? Is she elegant?
What do the fan she is keeping in her hand and the decoration of the armchair, remind you of?
Why did Picasso paint her with black hair and eyes when she had auburn hair and green eyes?
Describe the background.
Answer: Olga is seated on a chair, her right arm is supported by the backrest of the chair. In her left hand she keeps a fan half opened. Her black dress is very elegant, her hair are tied back, so her look is very sophisticated.
The decoration of the chair and of the fan remind one of Spain, but also the choice to paint her with black hair and eyes, instead of auburn hair and green eyes, it seems as if Picasso wanted to change Olga into a Spanish woman.
The background is not finished, most of that is the original canvas, Picasso concentrated on painting only the subject.
- What makes the Portrait of Olga in an Armchair so mimetic?
Answer: Picasso tones down the colours, giving an idea of light and shadow: in this way the subject emerges from the background with her volume.
- What was the purpose of Picasso painting the Portrait of Olga in an Armchair in this way?
Answer: Picasso in this painting wanted to exalt the beauty of his fiancée; in this period he was influenced by classical art and the Renaissance that he admired in Rome. The strong references to Spain were to make his mother happy, who wanted a Spanish girl as a daughter-in-law.
- Do you think that Picasso was able to represent the female gracefulness in both of the paintings? Explain your ideas.
- Il seguente test può essere proposto agli studenti in modo autonomo oppure può essere inserito in un test sommativo con altre sezioni in italiano su altri argomenti:
- Choose the right sentences about Analytical Cubism: (5 right)
□ It was a mimetic representation
□ It was always the representation of a dream
□ It was completely a new pictorial expression
□ Objects were deconstructed into their components
□ The pictorial technique was new, using new materials
□ Sometimes painters depicted different viewpoints simultaneously
□ The palette of colours was very various and bright
□ It was the representation of the main element of a subject, that was disassembled and assembled again on the canvas
□ It was an intellectual art form
□ The subjects often had a reference to the Renaissance
- Choose the right sentence:
□ Cubist paintings were abstract in appearance because artists wanted to represent subjects that were just only in their minds and not in reality
□ Cubism paintings are not clear at the first look because the artists don’t use many colours
□ Cubist paintings were more abstract in appearance, but the artists were still deeply conditioned by the material existence and the physical appearance of their subjects
□ Cubism paintings are clear and the subjects are immediately recognizable
- Why and when did the artistic experimentation of the Cubism finish?
□ In 1916 because Eva, Picasso’s fiancée, died and Picasso wanted to change his life
□ In 1914 because George Braque left to go to the war and the partnership with Picasso ended
□ In 1914 because Picasso had to leave to go to the war
□ In 1916 because Picasso was tired of that style
- In 1917 Picasso studied the decor and costumes for a ballet; what was the name of the ballet and what was the city where Picasso had to go?
□ Parade, Rome
□ Daring, Rome
□ Parade, Barcelona
□ Daring, Barcelona
- Who was Olga Khokhlova?
□ An Ukranian-Russian dancer who become Picasso’s wife
□ An Ukranian-Russian dancer who become Picasso’s model
□ A Russian friend of Jean Cocteau who gave inspiration to Picasso for a new style
□ A French dancer of the production by Serge Diaghilev, who decide to change her name in a Russian name
- In the portrait Olga in an Armchair, the armchair and the fan are a reference to:
- It was completely a new pictorial expression; Objects were deconstructed into their components; Sometimes painters depicted different viewpoints simultaneously; It was the representation of the main element of a subject, that was disassembled and assembled again on the canvas; It was an intellectual art form
- Cubist paintings were more abstract in appearance, but the artists were still deeply conditioned by the material existence and the physical appearance of their subjects
- In 1914 because George Braque left to go to the war and the partnership with Picasso ended
- Parade, Rome
- An Ukranian-Russian dancer who become Picasso’s wife