Literature in Art. Art in Literature.

Literature in art. I’ve written about it before here and here. Art Blog By Bob reviews a fascinating exhibition catalog Picasso and the Allure of Language, which accompanies  the exhibition at the Yale University Art Gallery. The exhibition knits together Picasso’s work and his affinity for writers, using their works and movements as fodder for his own. For example,

Picasso’s art stems from the same source as much modernist literature…[Gertrude] Stein’s modernism fuels the innovations that help Picasso develop Cubism.

Another example:

Fisher stresses how Picasso saw the newspaper as an example of the immediacy of the word in modern life. In addition to placing a newspaper on the table beneath a series of egg-like objects in Dog and Cock, Picasso arranges the entire painting in an almost columnar format.


For Picasso and his authors, illustration was a two-way street of interplay and dialogue. In 1948, Picasso created abstract, almost calligraphic illustrations for Pierre Reverdy’s Le chant des morts (The Song of the Dead) (above)….Still reeling from the bloodshed of World War II, Picasso creates a new language of pure gesture in blood to accompany Reverdy’s attempt to put those feelings into words. Fisher cites Picasso’s study of illuminated medieval manuscripts as a source for these illustrations.

It’s a natural interplay. Just two different ways of stating the same thing. I wonder if either practice would do better conveying any particular subject matter? But it all comes down to the viewer’s likes/dislikes/perceptions/level of engagement/understanding.


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