It was back to school again today.
I put together a PowerPoint presentation (well the Open Office version) of work by Picasso from his early works right through to his death in 1973. I couldn’t show too many, their concentration couldn’t have handled it, there were 26 pieces. Luckily there are also a huge amount of photographs of Picasso working which I interspersed amongst the works.
It is a long time since I had really looked at Picasso. There is always an assumption that you know him, but with so much output there is always something new, and always something new to find in the great works, that is why they are works of a genius. One picture I showed was Guernica, the greatest work of visual art in the Twentieth Century. In talking about it and listening to the children’s reactions, I realised how much the painting has to be put in context to get the most out of it. It does stand alone as a remarkable portrayal of suffering, looking at it again it is a painting of little hope, it’s role is to make us react against the inhumanity being portrayed. The pictures strength is in it’s simplicity of line and image, it could almost be a cartoon, and that isn’t belittling it, it still has that immediacy. If the painting was called Drone Attack or Terrorist Bombing, it would equally work. Each tragic ‘scene’ becomes part of a whole, just have a look at how lifeless the baby on the mother’s knee is to the right hand side, just a few lines create an image far more powerful than a thousand photographs. It is this throughout Picasso’s work that made him a genius.
I finished the presentation with Picasso’s Dove of Peace, again simplicity personified, a remarkable drawing made up of just twelve confident lines. Afterwards in the short time left over the children drew that image and one of a woman sleeping. It was not easy, and they worked hard to recreate the images, with some very interesting results!
I enjoy working with children, to see their reactions to art they have never seen before and without the prejudices of learning.
Today’s photograph is of Tunstall Square at around 11am, cloudy, dull, chilly.