Picasso’s Simpler Bulls

July 22, 2008 | By | 4 Replies More

I spotted this beautiful progression of drawings on Reddit and decided to publish the original link, which features a short series of bulls drawn by Picasson in late 1945.   Beautiful drawings start with a full bodied bull and end with an incredibly simple and elegant version.

When I was a child, I used to hear people comment on Picasso’s cubism, suggesting that Picasso couldn’t draw realistically and that is why he drew those “strange” drawings.  I grew up in a Midwest suburb  that was  often rife with parochialism and ignorance!  I saw that this sleight aimed at Picasso wasn’t true years later with my own eyes when, in New York in about 1980, I viewed a huge series of Picasso’s work spanning his entire life.  The early drawings were phenomenally realistic.   That is what I was reminded of when I spotted this short series.

This sleight also reminds me that humans are fantastically good at making claims for which they have no evidence.


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Category: Art

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (4)

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  1. Erika Price says:

    People seem very dismissive of art they don't understand- even more so than any other medium. If we don't "get" a movie or song, we usually just chalk it up to personal taste. But if a painting goes over our heads, we seem to belittle the art, claim the artist has no talent, and claim that the ubiquity of the piece is a stroke of luck for some talentless schlub.

    Though I do see some definite exceptions- some movies and songs really are that bad.

  2. I loved watching the evolution from a realistically drawn bull to his abstract essence.

  3. grumpypilgrim says:

    Most great modern painters — and by "modern" I mean those beginning with the Impressionists — were excellent realist painters. Despite being skilled realist painters, they *chose* to paint the way they did — pushing the concept of what we think of as art. (Perhaps surprisingly, even great abstract painters, such as Jackson Pollock, were excellent realist painters.) So, why did modern painters break away from realist painting after mastering it? Well, for one thing, realist painting forces young artist to learn how to control their medium — just as young musicians first play great pieces to master control of their instruments, or young athletes master the fundamentals of their sports before surpassing their coaches. One can't be a great painter unless one can control the paint.

    Another reason why modern artists split away from realism as their ultimate goal, and the reason why the split began with the Impressionists, is because that's when photography came into widespread use, and painters of that time realized they would never be as good as the camera at capturing realism. Instead of trying to compete with mechanical technology in reproducing images of reality, they decided to create what the camera could not: images that were *not* reality.

  4. Last year I went to an exhibition of some pretty unknown artist. I didn't really feel that I was connecting with his art, I don't really do with most abstract paintings, but there were also some watercolor drawing of animals and they showed that he knew how to make realist drawings, it's just he chose not to. On a sidenote, he also tried to convince me of some conspiracy theories revolving around 9/11. He was from Croatia, I think that explained it. I always get to hear that kind of stuff from expats or when I'm abroad.

    That's kind of interesting that Jackson Pollock was also a realist painter. I remember at school in my art class we were also doing abstract painting à la Jackson Pollock. It was kind of ok to be splashing the colors around.

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