Happy birthday, Pablo Picasso

On this day in Malaga, Spain, Pablo Picasso was born in 1881.  

Every time I think of Picasso, my mind hearkens back to an art experience I had in the summer of 1998 in Barcelona.  While in Barcelona, I visited the Museu Picasso.  

Guernica, 1937 by Pablo Picasso
Guernica courtesy of PabloPicasso.org

In my arrogance, I thought I knew Picasso's work.  I had studied Guernica at the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid.  I understood that Picasso broke down the real into abstract shapes and ideas.  I thought that he broke down the complex (war, slaughter) in order for the audience to digest the appropriate emotional response (horror, fright, shock).

Imagine my surprise when I turned a corner in the Museu Picasso to find this painting hanging on the wall:

First Communion image courtesy of Mental Floss

At the age of 14, Picasso began this realistic portrait of his sister at her first communion.  I don't know how long I stood, transfixed by the brushwork composing the realistic veil.  I do remember my friends pulling me away because the museum was closing.

This is when I began to realize that an artist who had mastered the real world would begin to explore the imaginary world as well as lines and symbols in their simplest forms.

Have you ever had a transformational art experience like this?  Have you ever stood in one place, thinking you understood the world around you, and then, in an instant, you see something that changes everything?  It is an exciting experience as the pieces shatter, scatter, and then come together in an entirely different mental assimilation.

Pablo Picasso Photo
Pablo Picasso (1881 - 1973)
photo courtesy of http://www.pablopicasso.org/

On Picasso's birthday, celebrate these rare eye-opening times in your life.  Remember to be on the lookout for more. 

"I am always doing that which I cannot do,
in order that I may learn how to do it." 
- Pablo Picasso


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