El Greco and Picasso
I'm having fun posting paintings that rhyme. (I'm not sure why, other than that it gives me a chance to post about actual art. And maybe a visit to a wonderful paintings collection such as the Art Institute of Chicago's has my brain spinning in that direction.) I don't think anything here is particularly new (though I'd love to see someone confirm my Cope-Hartley suspicions), but I'm having fun and that's enough.
So: At right you see Picasso's 1905-06 Boy Leading a Horse, which is on view now at MoMA. (It's pretty much always up, so don't rush over or anything.) There are lots of bizarrely riveting things going here -- imaginary reins! -- but I particularly like the way Picasso makes the color of the sky into the color of the horse.
(I'm also fascinated by the way that particuilar young acrobat surfaces in painting after painting. With one of MoMA's Matisses is in Dallas, the kid gets double billing in New York. Heck, he's everywhere, including in the Barnes' Acrobat and Young Harlequin, and in the $104 million Boy with a Pipe, perhaps the least good Picasso using him as a model. He's gotta be in the NGA's superb Family of Saltimbanques, but I can't definitvely peg him in that painting.)
Picasso painted Boy Leading a Horse near the end of a period in which he put a lot of El Greco into everything he did. (The blue period might as well be called the El Greco Period and even Picasso's post-Blue paintings are full of the great Spaniard's hands, poses, hooded figures, and postures. Picasso biographer John Richardson dates that "obsession" back to 1897, and even more specifically to an 1899 notebook in which Picasso wrote "I am El Greco.") Boy Leading a Horse, painted at the tail end of the El Greco period in 1905 and 1906, is one of Picasso's most direct cribs from any artist. He took much of the painting from El Greco's Saint Martin and the Beggar, including the painting's proportions.
Picasso probably saw one of these two paintings, probably the NGA's painting which was in Paris in 1906. (The canvas now identified as a workshop painting seems to have been in Paris during Picasso's time too.) But I wonder... Remember how I said I liked how Picasso's horse and his sky shared a palette? I wrote in my notebook in Chicago that there's some sky blue in El Greco's white horse. I don't see any blue in the NGA painting. So maybe Picasso saw the other one?
Related: The third volume of John Richardson's Picasso biography will cover 1917-1932. It will be published in early November, and you can pre-order it for 35% off here.
Bloggers: Anyone else having fun rhyming? Post 'em this week and I'll link to them on Friday. John Firestone has a head start on you -- and picked on the same El Greco.
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