A superb article on Picasso and Modern British Art at the Tate. T.J. Clark is a rare thing in recent British art criticism—good.
“This is not the place to launch into a full description of the Three Dancers’ inspired – inexhaustible – construction. The range of its turbid colours; its sepulchral, bone-crushing use of an upright format; its reckless variations of surface texture; the asphyxiating forward pressure of the blue ‘outside’ its windows; the crazy hole in the dancer’s torso to the left, through which a white-and-red-striped gobstopper whirls towards us like a bullet down a barrel – these are devices that none of us can follow. The power of mind here is chilling. Art historians race for the safety of iconography. Let me just speak (again with the present argument in view) to the picture’s overall effect. It is one of distance, certainly: a standing back from the world’s appearances, a grim (but also comic) summary of the human condition, like a Grünewald altarpiece or an Assyrian seal. But distance has nothing to do with disguise, or sublimation.”
“If you were like him, you would be a great artist.”
In Francoise Gilot’s Life with Picasso she tells of how another of Picasso’s ex-lovers used to write huge letters haranguing him everyday, when she wasn’t stalking him. And she would often include a picture of Rembrandt and write, “If you were like him, you would be a great artist.” Gilot says this used to trouble Picasso a lot. But it sounds like it would be a useful service to everyone.