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All about the painting "Les demoiselles d'Avignon" by Picasso

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When it comes to Cubism, it is impossible not to think of the painting "Les demoiselles d'Avignon" by Pablo Picasso, even if, in reality, the volumes are not yet completely broken down in this work. However, this painting represents the beginning of a new era, the era of Cubism. Here is all you need to know about this famous painting that represents one of the most significant works of Cubism, a term that was coined occasionally by Henri Matisse in 1907 and then became the name of this artistic current represented by exponents such as Pablo Picasso, Braque, etc.

1) The painting was made in Paris

Picasso took about a year to realize this work and the painting is the result obtained after a long work characterized by many sketches and drawings that have undergone several changes before they were used for the realization of the picture. The artist was in Paris at the time the work was made and although initially it was considered incomplete by many, in reality each point represents a conscious choice of the painter, who created the painting between 1906 and 1907.

2) What the work represents

One thing not everyone knows is that Picasso made two versions of this work, although he later abandoned the initial project to devote himself to the second version.

In the first version the artist had represented a very precise scene of a brothel in which a sailor suffering from syphilis waited to be treated by 5 women. 

In the second version the allegory of the women's bodies is clearly represented. The female body is seen as fascinating and beautiful, but also ambivalent and potentially dangerous.

3) The origin of the name

"Les demoiselles d'Avignon" is the name the artist chose for this work after having entitled the painting initially "le bordel d'Avignon". In any case, the name seems to be a reference to a street in Barcelona called d'Avignon, a street famous for its dating houses and which Picasso had most likely attended when he was young. 

4) What the picture represents

Looking at the painting you can see 5 naked girls posing for the artist. There is no perspective, the volumes are already sharp enough, and the various planes seem to overlap. There is a squatting girl looking in front, but her position shows us her back, while the girl on the left in some ways recalls Egyptian art. Finally, the girls placed in the centre are very reminiscent of African sculptures, conscious choices of the painter who wanted to simplify the work and who was also inspired by classical art, an aspect demonstrated also through the colours that are variations of blue and ochre. 

5) Where you can admire the painting

Until 1916 "Les demoiselles d'Avignon" remained in the artist's studio where it was admired by many artists and friends of Picasso, while in 1920 the painting was purchased by a collector who sold it in 1937 to the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA), where it is still exhibited.

Article by: Aurora Caraman.

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