Young Picasso film review: an extraordinary young man and his work

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (The Young Ladies of Avignon).
Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (The Young Ladies of Avignon).

IF you suggested that five prostitutes had changed the face of art irrevocably in 1907, most would suggest you were smoking something a little heavier than your average Gauloises.

But in the case of Pablo Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (The Young Ladies of Avignon), you surely wouldn’t be too far off the mark.

As made clear in the Exhibition on Screen production Young Picasso, the creation of this particular work was nothing short of a revolution in the perception of how to use a canvas to render an idea artistically.

Traditionally, mathematical principles had been used to create the illusion of depth and breadth on the canvas.

As the harbinger of cubism, the work originally titled The Brothel of Avignon added a third dimension to the surface, these five young ladies all appearing to stare right back at the voyeur at their ‘window’.

The long and detailed discussion of this painting’s genesis and significance is the culmination of this remarkable, totally intoxicating documentary.

It takes the view that whereas Picasso’s later years have been well documented, a significant portrait of the artist as a young man was missing.

It examines his early life and his early Blue Period and Rose Period, leading to the breakthrough of 1907.

In the process, all three Picasso Museums in Malaga, Barcelona and Paris are explored, with a variety of commentators explicating the works.

The revelation of this film is the accumulation of artistry that pervades these early years. This was a young man of almost unparalleled artistic vision, skill and drive.

He willed a new creative process into being.

There were casualties everywhere, his many lovers a case in point.

But it tells you much of the artistic process that he could take a subject representing a low, seemingly shameful class of woman and transform art forever.

There was a grandeur about Picasso’s vision that almost explodes off the screen.

It’s a sensation all lovers of culture should understand. And it’s most definitely here in this study of a young, extraordinary man and his work.

 

THE ESSENTIALS

Young Picasso (E)

Directed by: Phil Grabsky

Reviewed by: Martin Turner

4.5 stars

In cinemas: August 3, 4 and 7