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Les Demoiselles d'Avignon by Picasso

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Picasso Les Demoiselles d'Avignon

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon by Pablo Picasso, 1907. Oil on canvas, 8 x7' 8" (244 x 234 cm). Museum of Modern Art (Moma) New York.

Photo: © Davina DeVries (Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved)
This enormous painting (nearly eight square feet) by Picasso is heralded as the one of the most important pieces of modern art ever created, if not the most important, a crucial painting in the development of modern art. The painting depicts five women -- prostitutes in a brothel -- but there's much debate about what it all means and all the references and influences in it.

Art critic Jonathan Jones1 says: "What struck Picasso about African masks [evident in the faces of the figures on the right] was the most obvious thing: that they disguise you, turn you into something else - an animal, a demon, a god. Modernism is an art that wears a mask. It does not say what it means; it is not a window but a wall. Picasso picked his subject matter precisely because it was a cliche: he wanted to show that originality in art does not lie in narrative, or morality, but in formal invention. This is why it's misguided to see Les Demoiselles d'Avignon as a painting 'about' brothels, prostitutes or colonialism."

See Also:
1. Pablo's Punks by Jonathan Jones, The Guardian, 9 January 2007.
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