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The Success and Failure of Picasso Paperback – November 30, 1993
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From the Back Cover
At the height of his powers, Pablo Picasso was the artist as revolutionary, breaking through the niceties of form in order to mount a direct challenge to the values of his time. At the height of his fame, he was the artist as royalty: incalculably wealthy, universally idolized--and wholly isolated.In this stunning critical assessment, John Berger--one of this century's most insightful cultural historians--trains his penetrating gaze upon this most prodigious and enigmatic painter and on the Spanish landscape and very particular culture that shaped his life and work.
About the Author
John Berger was born in London in 1926. He is well known for his novels and stories as well as for his works of nonfiction, including several volumes of art criticism. His first novel, A Painter of Our Time, was published in 1958, and since then his books have included Ways of Seeing, the fiction trilogy Into Their Labours, and the novel G., which won the Booker Prize in 1972. In 1962 he left Britain permanently, and lived in a small village in the French Alps. He died in 2017.
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Berger attributes Picasso failure (assuming you know where Picasso had succeeded) to his selection of inferior subject matter. Being of Marxist's creed, Berger would prefer for Picasso to select his subjects from a set of social problems which will connect him to a 'working class', a nation, or a movement, rather than be confined to a personal expressions. He's OK with his blue-pink period of 'being a social outcast' and considers his cubist period as his best. He also finds the merit in his work of post-war years and sees his work in decline starting from fifties. His accusations are not completely groundless but are disputable. His astute criticism of cubism, its connection with natural sciences, quantum mechanics, its simultaneity of multiple views as a way or organizing information, these are the most interesting passages I enjoyed.
I like Berger's dissenting views as a stimuli for discussion. He will not bow to the overwhelming Picasso admiration and is not afraid to provides critique that alone drives our knowledge forward. I found his book interesting and useful.
Informatiin about history culrure,and not enough
Facts about picassos success and failures as an artist.
Some writers fill pages with ambiguous material,
Just to fill the pages.its an insult to peoples intelligence.
The central essay here is "The Moment of Cubism." Berger paints a general portrait of a distinct era of possibility: artistic and social and political. The explosion of Cubism is but a moment in a larger moment of real revolution. Not just "ways of seeing" but ways of living, thinking, hoping. Berger reminds us that Picasso needed the times (Europe), he also, more specifically needed friends and support. After all, there were two who brought forth cubism; moreover, there were the likes of Cezanne.
Berger asks the question that is overlooked in the constant reverence of Picasso's potency (echoing Benjamin Buchloh on the "ciphers of regression"): was Picasso genius throughout his career or was that moment (historical and aesthetic) the real genius?
(For more on Berger, read his two inspired novels: "G." and "To the Wedding.")