Pablo Picasso - Bulls 1-11(05.12.1945 - 17.01.1946)• Picasso’s most effectively rhetoric depiction of the bull is a series oflithographic prints in which he makes a dramatic statement on the power ofsimplicity. In 1945, Picasso worked tediously in a workshop creating a seriesof eleven prints showing a bull going from a “plump” and detailed bull goingto a linear and schematic yet graceful outline of a bullish figure. Thisprocess was described by Irving Lavin as being headed, “toward apreternatural state of illuminated absent-mindedness and incoporeality—before it had acquired the bulky accretions of Sophisticated Europeanculture,” (Lavin, 81). Each stage shearing off bit by bit, a process that thelithograph pressman Célestin commented on: “ And I couldn’t help thinkingto myself: what I don’t understand is that he has ended up where he oughtto have begun! But for his part, he was looking for his bull,” (Levy, 120).Each print was considered a “state” charged with its own reality until, at theend the primitive contour drawing left was the essence of the bull—the samemystical essence captured on the walls of Lascaux.
• This idea of primitivism goes back to the beginning of not only theprecocious knowledge that those prehistoric painters held in theirpaintbrushes, but also the naiveté of children. This is precisely why, by theend of Picasso’s career, he chose to essentially cut away all thecomplexities of the art that had been established before him and leave theworld with powerful yet extremely simple messages. When asked about thedisappearance of the “marvelous” simplicity of primitive expression, Picassoanswered:• This is due to the fact that man has ceased to be simple. He wanted to seefarther and so he lost the faculty of understanding that which he had withinreach of his vision…The same happens with a watch: it will go more or lesswell; but if it goes at all it is not so bad. The worse begins the moment it fallsinto the hands of a watchmaker…His manipulations will rob it of its purity,and this will never return…just as the idea of art subsists; but we alreadyknow what has been done to it by the schools…Its essence has evaporated,and I make you a present of what remains. (Lavin, 84).
• This is an extremely powerful statement by Picasso that is a metaphor forhis life and career as an artist. His artistic brilliance comes from theinterpretation of the abstraction of his simplicity. To think that he spent hislife like the lithographic bull, throwing off layer after layer of technique andclassical balance (essentially humanness) to reveal the essential bull in hisart--trading his technical ability for symbolic meaning, is a dizzyingproposition. He not only created art but lived his art.Images• Pablo Picasso. The Bull. State I-IV 1945. Lithography. The Museum ofModern Arts, New York, NY, USA.• http://pages.cpsc.ucalgary.ca/~sheelagh/personal/reps/bulls/• http://blogs.princeton.edu/wri152-3/nbisaria/archives/001985.html• http://www.flickr.com/photos/renzodionigi/sets/72157622038648624/with/4844063528/• http://behindthecreativity.tumblr.com/post/13577860911/pablo-picasso-bull-plates-i-xi-1945-46-apresentation by sotos